Welcome to the Colorado College IRB web page. The IRB, short for Institutional Review Board, exists to protect the well-being of participants in human subjects research (research that takes people as the objects of study rather than, say, Shakespeare plays, viruses, or artwork by Jackson Pollack). Most human subjects research is carried out with interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, experiments, and fieldwork. While it is commonly carried out in disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, business, and political science, human subjects research may also be carried in departments such as Education or Human Biology and Kinesiology, as well as in interdisciplinary programs such as Feminist and Gender Studies, Race, Ethnicity and Migration Studies, and Southwest Studies. Some Venture Grant projects also require interaction with the IRB; please see the subpage on this issue for more information.
The IRB regulations changed on January 19, 2019. Many of the changes have been incorporated into text and forms on this website. For more information about the changes, please see the subpage on federal regulation changes,
Below are the forms that you will use to either apply for IRB approval (the first form) or request an exemption. Please be aware that researchers cannot exempt their own research from IRB review; only the IRB can do that. Please review the text below the forms for further information.
Exemption and Application Forms
The first thing you need to know is that if your project is a personal interest project and is not for a grade, a course, or a thesis, and is not intended to contribute to generalizable academic knowledge, your project does not require interaction with the IRB at all, as it does not count as research by the federal government. If your project is a Venture Grant project, please see the Venture Grants subpage for more information.
Your project may be an academic project but may still fall into a category of research that the federal government does not define as research and that therefore does not require you to fill out an IRB proposal. Such projects include journalism, oral history, and other projects in which you are only studying individuals and are not drawing broader social or historical conclusions. If you think this may be the case, please review the "Projects Not Defined as Research Information Form" immediately below. If your project falls into one of these categories and no others, please save a copy of this form, fill it out, and email it to the IRB chair.
There are four exemptions for which your research may be eligible. If your research is eligible for one of these exemptions, you only need to fill out the relevant form and not the full IRB application form.
If you are carrying out research on educational practices, even if they involve children, you may be eligible for the educational research exemption. Please review the "Educational Research Exemption Determination Form" immediately below. If your project fits into this category and no others involving interaction with people, please save a copy of this form, fill it out, and email it to the IRB chair with all relevant attachments described in the form.
If you are carrying out research with adults limited only to one or more of four types of research (educational tests, interviews, surveys, observation in public places), you may be eligible for the interaction research exemption. Please review the "Interaction Research Exemption Determination Form" immediately below. If your project fits into one or more of these categories and no others involving interaction with people, please save a copy of this form, fill it out, and email it to the IRB chair with all relevant attachments described in the form.
If you are carrying out psychological or marketing research with adults that involves no deception (or that involves deception that you can provide minimal information about in the consent process), you may be eligible for the benign behavioral intervention research exemption. Please review the "Benign Behavioral Intervention Research Exemption Determination Form" below. If your project fits into this category and no others involving interaction with people, please save a copy of this form, fill it out, and email it to the IRB chair with all relevant attachments described in the form. Note that this exemption has a special consent form with the same title that you must use with this exemption.
If you are carrying out secondary research involving information that has already been collected for someone else's research or non-research project, or that you have collected previously for a different research or non-research project, you may be eligible for the secondary research exemption. If your project fits into this category and no others involving interaction with people, please save a copy of this form, fill it out, and email it to the IRB chair.
Please fill out and submit the below IRB Application Form only if your project is defined as research according to the federal government AND you are not eligible for any of the above exemptions.
Informed Consent and Related Templates
You must use a consent form unless you have submitted the request for a waiver or alteration of the consent process (the final form in the section immediately below) and have had your request approved by the IRB. You must use one of the below templates unless the IRB has approved your using a different consent form.
Standard Consent Form Template (use for interviews, experiments for which you are not seeking an exemption, and other face-to-face, formal interactional forms of research other than paper surveys)
Benign Behavioral Intervention Research Consent Form Template (use only for research for which you are seeking the Benign Behavioral Intervention Research Exemption)
Paper Survey Consent Form Template (use only for paper surveys; text to be attached at the beginning of the survey)
Online Survey Consent Form Template (use only for online surveys; text to be attached at the beginning of the survey)
Assent Form Template for Children Ages 14-17 (replaces consent form for research with older children; must be used with Parent/Guardian Permission Form Template)
Assent Form Template for Children through Age 13 (replaces consent form for research with younger children; must be used with Parent/Guardian Permission Form Template)
Parent/Guardian Permission Form Template (supplements assent forms for children; legally required)
Release Form for Use of Photography/Video Recording (use when photographing or video recording research participants; not necessary for photographing or video recording buildings, nature, or other non-human phenomena)
Deception Debriefing Statement Template (legally required for research involving deception, whether exempt or not, unless the research has received a waiver of informed consent)
Request for Waiver or Alteration of Informed Consent Process (submit if you are requesting a waiver or alteration of the informed consent process, or if you are requesting a waiver of documentation of informed consent)
Recruitment Materials Templates
Recruitment Email Template (use if you are recruiting participants via email; the template is structured to include all the legal information you need to provide to potential participants)
Recruitment Letter Template (use if you are recruiting participants via letter; the template is structured to include all the legal information you need to provide to potential participants)
While the IRB has not designed a recruitment flyer template, please note that your flyer, however designed, must include the following informational elements to be approved by the IRB: a statement that your project is research, the purpose of the study, any activities participants will engage in, the duration of their participation, any possible risks to participants, any benefits participants will (or may) receive, the fact that their participation is voluntary, and your name and contact information (phone number, email address). If relevant, your flyer must also include information about eligibility criteria regarding who should and who should not participate in the study. Your recruitment flyer must not contain any misleading information about the study or overemphasize incentives or compensation (e.g., by using larger or bold type).
Please be aware that there is specific language to be used by faculty members in their emails of approval for student projects. The language is on the first page of the application. Faculty members must use this language in order for students to have their proposals reviewed. Faculty members, please take note, and students, please remind your advisors about the language.
Please be aware that the IRB will not, under any circumstances, approve a project for which the research has already been carried out. Proposals must be approved before research can begin.
Please be aware that your proposal will NOT be reviewed if it is missing any of the following elements:
- Faculty sponsor's email of approval (unless it is a Venture Grant project that is NOT for a thesis; those are reviewed without faculty sponsor input. If your Venture Grant will be used to collect senior thesis data, your thesis advisor does need to approve the IRB proposal)
- A debriefing form or script if you will be using deception (most common in psychology and marketing studies)
- Your consent form or script, built using one of the templates below
- Your interview questions, survey instrument, experiment process, or other materials showing clearly what the participant will encounter and what they will do
- The beginning and anticipated ending dates of your research project
- An answer to the question of how you would report an incident of harm of one occurred. Please be aware that you need to answer this question even if you are sure no harm will occur. A typical and good answer is that you would report an incident of harm to your advisor and to the chair of the IRB.
To submit your proposal, complete proposals including copies of all necessary attachments and a confirming email from your faculty sponsor are due VIA EMAIL to the Chair of the IRB when they are fully prepared, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis during the entire year (including the summer, though please note that summer review may take longer). You will usually be notified about the IRB decision regarding your proposal within several days of submitting your proposal. A turnaround of one to two days is not unusual but cannot be guaranteed.
The best way for researchers to make sure they have enough time to go through the application, receive approval, and still have time to do research is to do an exemplary job of filling out the application and to send the proposal in as early as possible.
Please treat initial contact with the IRB chair in a formal and professional manner, as you would the cover letter you sent along with a job application. Sending an extremely casual or informal email to the IRB chair signals that you may be equally casual about your obligations to the participants in your study. Unless you know the chair personally, please do not begin your email "Hey, Amanda" or in other equally informal ways.