International Research

Carrying out international research may be more complicated than carrying out research within the United States. The cultural, economic, or political conditions of the country you are in may change aspects of your research situation including the probability of harming your participants, the potential magnitude of the harm, who counts as a vulnerable participant, what counts as an appropriate informed consent process, and data storage and data security issues specific to your local situation. If your research will be carried out in a language other than English, you will need to translate forms and you may need to use a translator for interviews or other interactions.

You also need to be aware of and follow local laws on human subjects research. The International Compilation of Human Research Protections is a good starting place, as it provides information about research laws in many countries. However, historically this document has focused on biomedical research so you may need to seek out additional resources to understand the local legal and ethical context for social/behavioral research. If the laws in your country of research are stricter than the parallel laws in the US, you must carry out your research within the parameters of the stricter local laws. Many countries also have data privacy and security laws and you need to familiarize yourself with and honor those laws as well (for example, the European Union and three additional countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) have implemented the General Data Protection Regulation, which may impact your research).

You may only carry out human subjects research while abroad once you have gone through whatever official channels have been established at your study site and have been approved for research there. It is your responsibility to work with your program director or the faculty member teaching your course to determine what the local obligations are so that you can meet them. You should begin these preparations before you leave CC, if possible, by communicating with your program director or faculty member to obtain background information that will leave you better prepared when you arrive onsite. Once you are at the study site, you will need to continue your process of finding out the local specifics of human subjects research permission. Remember that you must do this proactively; it is not an excuse if the proper channels are not immediately made available to you. Track them down.

If you have questions or concerns and your program director or faculty member is not helping you, contact Allen Bertsche, Director of Global Education.

Remember that you will also need to either determine that your project does not require IRB review or go through the application or exemption process as described elsewhere on this website. You should familiarize yourself with the IRB webpage before you leave for your study site, as this will save you time once you are there. You will be able to go through the entire IRB process at your study site as long as you have access to email and a printer there. You may find it helpful to print documents (as well as this page) before leaving, as well as saving a copy of the IRB application form on your computer.

Your program director or faculty member off-campus should review your IRB application form to make sure that you have done a thorough job on it, as this will speed up your IRB approval. If you plan to use your off-campus research for a thesis project, be aware that your thesis advisor needs to review and approve your IRB application before you send it to the IRB.

If you are studying off-campus during the fall semester, you should plan to submit your IRB application no later than the end of block 1. If you are studying off-campus during the spring semester, you should plan to submit your IRB application no later than the end of block 5.

If your research involves a Venture Grant, please also review the Venture Grants page.

Report an issue - Last updated: 09/06/2021