Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides answers to many of the human subject questions commonly asked by researchers. If you have questions or concerns not addressed here, please contact the IRB chairperson, Dr. Paul Schupp, at 716.286.8335.

How do I submit a research project for IRB approval?

The easiest way is to complete the IRB Application Form, available here, and submit your application, the proposal, consent letters, measures electronically to

I recently submitted a research project for IRB approval. How long should I wait before checking on its status?

Please allow three weeks for the IRB to review your application. If you haven't received word after three weeks, please contact the chairperson, Dr. Jinyan Huang at 716.286.8259.

I am an NU professor or student planning to complete human subjects research off campus. Do I need to obtain IRB approval?

Yes. The research falls under the purview of the NU IRB by virtue of your affiliation with the university.

Some of my course assignments require students to work with human subjects. Do my students need to obtain IRB approval?

In general, no. Assignments completed by students in fulfillment of course requirements do not require IRB approval if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They are conducted in a public or widely accessible setting (e.g., coffee shop, NU classroom, religious institution).
  • They are pedagogical in nature; in other words, they are not conducted with the intent of contributing to generalizable knowledge.
  • They involve no more than minimal risk.
  • They involve only the recording of non-identifying information.

It is the responsibility of the course instructor to provide appropriate oversight for these assignments as well as instruction on the ethical conduct of human subjects research. If you are uncertain whether a class assignment meets these criteria, please contact the chairperson, Dr. Joseph Little, at before the assignment is introduced to the class.

This policy does not pertain to honors theses, capstone projects, or other student projects that have the potential for scholarly impact (e.g., conference presentation or publication). For example, any student project involving the systematic collection of human subjects data for use in a presentation or publication, including web publication, must gain IRB approval before beginning. Additionally, students who wish to continue a project after the course has concluded must gain IRB approval before doing so.

What is the composition of the IRB at NU?

Currently, the IRB is composed of the following members:

  • William Frye, Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Paula Kot, English
  • Susan Mason, Psychology
  • Tim Osberg, Psychology
  • Vince Rinaldo, Education
  • Joseph Little, English
  • Paul Schupp, Criminal Justice
  • Sylvia Valentin, Education
  • James Delaney, Philosophy
  • Chris Stoj, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics
  • Jinyan Huang, Education
  • Ann Rensel, Business
  • Diana Falco, Criminal Justice
  • Doug Tewksbury, Communication Studies
  • Jay Walker, Economics
  • Jimmy Smith, Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Kenneth Culton, Sociology
  • Malena King-Jones, Nursing
  • Talia Harmon, Criminal Justice
  • Burt Thompson, Psychology
  • Jennifer Stoll, YMCA
  • David Skiba, Social Work

We are in the process of adding additional members to the board.