The Vassar College Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible for ensuring that research involving human participants is conducted ethically and in accordance with the appropriate federal regulations.  Vassar College is committed to protecting the rights, welfare, and privacy of individuals participating as subjects in research.

The Vassar IRB is guided by the ethical principles set forth in the Belmont Report and federal regulations (HHS regulations 45 CFR part 46). In accordance with these principles, the IRB strives to create a culture of respect for, and awareness of, the rights and welfare of research participants that is also conducive to the scholarly pursuits of the Vassar community.

There are three categories of review conducted by the IRB. These levels of review are exempt, expedited, or full board review.  These are explained in greater detail in the Categories of IRB Review section of this website.  Please visit this page first to explore whether your project might be exempt from IRB review.  If you are certain that an application is required, an overview of the application process is available under “Application.”  Even if your project does not constitute research, or is otherwise exempt from IRB review, under New York state law it likely still requires the use of a release form signed by participants or their parents if it involves audio or video recording (see the “Forms” section of this website).

PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINING WHETHER A RESEARCH PROJECT IS EXEMPT FROM IRB REVIEW. If it is possible that the research does not require an application, the primary investigator (who must be a faculty member or administrator) should fill in the form on the Categories of IRB Review page of the website and submit it; the IRB will normally respond within one week indicating whether the project is exempt, not exempt, or requires that you provide further information.  Note that we are currently experiencing very high volume of submissions and inquiries and therefore the turnaround time is longer than usual.  Researchers must not proceed to recruit participants or collect data until receiving a decision from the IRB that the project is exempt or the application is approved.

Regardless of IRB review category, we strongly encourage faculty, students, and staff who will be conducting research with human participants to complete an available training course on the ethics of such research.  This is only required for key personnel on NIH-funded human subjects research (even if the research is exempt from IRB review), but familiarity with the relevant ethical principles helps to guarantee that Vassar researchers always treat their study participants in an appropriate and ethical manner.

Please direct IRB-related questions or other communications to irb@vassar.edu.