Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Research with Human Subjects

The mandate of the institutional review board is to provide comprehensive protection for human subjects of research conducted by students, staff, faculty, or visiting researchers at Hampshire College. The intent of this board is to assure

  • that investigators do not unduly put at risk or harm humans who are the subjects of research,
  • that the subjects of such research are aware of their rights, as defined in Title 45, part 46, of the Code of Federal Regulations, and
  • that all investigators engage in research that complies with ethical standards such as obtaining informed consent from those participating, minimization of invasiveness or harm, abstaining from or minimizing deception, and maintaining confidentiality and privacy for participants.

Information about the procedures and forms required for submitting a research proposal to the IRB for review can be found on the following web pages: information for students/information for faculty.

Please Note: The IRB is not the only entity that is concerned with ethics in research, as there are other ethics of scholarship that may apply to your research or project. For example, if your research involves animals, consult Cindy Gill ( about the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC). Regarding intellectual property, consult the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Information about Institutional Review Board

Research that uses human subjects must be reviewed and approved by an independent committee called an institutional review board (IRB). The IRB provides an opportunity and place for individuals with different backgrounds to discuss and make judgments about the acceptability of projects, based on criteria set out in Common Rule ("systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge").

Under the Common Rule, IRBs must have at least five members and include at least one scientist, one non-scientist, and "one member who is not otherwise affiliated with the institution and who is not part of the immediate family of a person who is affiliated with the institution." IRBs have the authority to approve, require modification of (in order to secure approval), and disapprove all research activities covered by the Common Rule. They are also responsible for conducting continuing review of research at least once per year and for ensuring that proposed changes in approved research are not initiated without IRB review and approval, except when necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to the subject.

For more information, please visit the IRB guidebook from the Department of Health and Human Services