Human Subjects Research Committee

The College of Wooster’s Human Subjects Research Committee (HSRC), or “Institutional Review Board (IRB)” for federal purposes, is a specially constituted review body established or designated to protect the welfare of human subjects recruited to participate in research studies or assessment projects.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandates the HSRC to review all research proposals to ensure compliance with human subjects protocol and adherence to professional ethical standards.  While the HSRC conducts its review according to this protocol, the ultimate responsibility for compliance and adherence to professional ethical standards resides with the student, faculty, or staff researcher.

Who is required to seek HSRC review?

Any member of The College of Wooster community planning to conduct research using human participants must have that research reviewed and approved by the HSRC.  Student projects such as Independent Study and other research projects involving human participants must also be reviewed by the committee.

Some assessment projects, particularly those that are multi-institutional projects or those where Wooster’s data will be included in published reports or future studies, require review as well.

Researchers not affiliated with The College of Wooster conducting primary research with subjects on-campus and anyone analyzing unpublished data collected at the College must seek HSRC approval.

The requirement to review research projects applies to all research involving human subjects, whether the project is funded or not.

If you are unsure about whether your research is exempt from the process, please contact a member of the committee.

At what point in my research project do I need HSRC approval?

HSRC approval is required before data collection can begin, and in some instances, as a prerequisite to receiving College funding.   The HSRC cannot approve a proposal after the research project has started.  Note that any data collected prior to receiving notification that your project has been approved cannot be used.  

When should I submit my proposal to the HSRC?

The HSRC reviews completed proposals as they are received. To avoid delays in starting your research, you should plan to submit your proposal as far in advance of the date you plan to begin your project.   The HSRC typically has a very heavy review agenda during the fall due to I.S..   Also, the HSRC typically meets during the fall and spring semester, and members may not be available over breaks or during the summer, so proposals should be submitted well in advance for projects to be carried out during the summer or at the start of the fall or spring semester.

Be aware that a FULL Review by all HSRC members is required for any research project that involves minors (under 18 years of age) or other vulnerable populations; makes use of "sensitive" questions (see the application form for additional details); or any study that might be considered "invasive" (risk of injury, ingestion of any substances, etc.).

HSRC Meetings & Deadlines

Fall 2014 Semester: meetings are TBA.

For an application requiring Full Review to be considered at a HSRC Meeting, the complete application must be submitted to an Area Reviewer by the prior Friday.  Please be aware that submitting an incomplete application to an Area Reviewer does not guarantee that an application will be reviewed in the subsequent meeting.  If you have questions about whether your application is complete, please consult with an Area Reviewer.

NOTE:  the deadline for students or faculty to submit HSRC forms for the Fall Semester is Friday, December 5, 2014 (4:00 p.m.).  Anyone wanting to conduct research over winter break will need to have their materials submitted by this date.