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Message to Saint Xavier Students

Conducting Research With Human Subjects

All student researchers at Saint Xavier University should be aware that there are federal regulations and University policies governing all research involving human subjects. These guidelines apply equally to faculty members, freshmen conducting their first campus surveys, graduate students performing advanced experiments with human volunteers, business students conducting market surveys, education majors studying group differences in student performance, nursing students investigating health risks, as well as any other research projects involving human subjects. The regulations and policies referred to above exist In order to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects, and all research at Saint Xavier University involving the collection of data about living individuals must be reviewed and approved by SXU's Institutional Review Board (IRB) before research activities are started. To better protect all parties involved, it is also Saint Xavier's policy that any student seeking to conduct research involving human subjects must have a faculty sponsor and must apply for and receive approval from Saint Xavier's IRB prior to starting any research activities. What follows are some ethical concerns you should consider when designing your research project. Your faculty sponsor can help you ensure that all such issues are carefully addressed in your IRB Application Form, and the checklist on the IRB Forms site may also prove useful.

  1. You may not place any pressure on prospective volunteers to participate in your research. All participation must be completely voluntary. People are free not to participate and may discontinue their participation at any time.
  2. You must protect the anonymity of your participants. Do not report names or other identifying characteristics in your papers.
  3. All information must be kept in strictest confidence. You may not discuss specific answers or information from a particular individual with anyone else.
  4. You may not harm your volunteers in any way. You may not expose your volunteers to circumstances that might cause physical or financial injury, undue emotional trauma, or social censure. You may not financially or sexually exploit your volunteers. Keep in mind that asking some personal questions may be upsetting to some people and therefore may be considered harmful. If there is any potential risk of harm, you must assess the level of risk and make every effort to minimize it. All potential risks must be reported to the IRB.
  5. You must assess the benefits of your research to your volunteers or to others. Federal regulation require you to ensure that the benefits of your research outweigh any risks. Ethical research is research that involves some clear benefit and little if any risk. Research with high risks and no benefits should not be performed.
  6. You must select your subjects in a fair and equitable manner. Participants should be selected because of reasons directly related to the problem being studied rather than because they are gullible, powerless or dependent on you for rewards or punishments.
  7. You must tell your subjects the purpose of the study and obtain their informed consent. The Guidelines for the Preparation of Informed Consent Forms section of this website contains a link to elements of informed consent as well as other pertinent information that will help you prepare for the informed consent process. You may also contact your faculty sponsor or the IRB (irbFREESXU) for answers to questions about instructions or designing informed consent forms.
  8. Except under exceptional circumstances, you may not deceive your subjects about the purpose of the study. Studies employing deception must undergo a full IRB review.

When developing your research proposal, it is vital to collaborate with your faculty sponsor about your topic, the type of people you are studying, and how you intend to collect data (questionnaires, experiments, in-depth interviews, etc.). If you are conducting research with human subjects as part of a class assignment, you sponsor may seek an exemption from full IRB review for the entire class. Please contact your sponsor or members of the IRB if you have any questions concerning proper procedures for conducting ethical research with human volunteers.