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University of Richmond IRB Policy Guide

The University of Richmond IRB Policy Guide sets institution-specific policies for human subject protection at the University.  While the IRB Policy Guide provides a good basis for anticipating IRB actions, each proposal is evaluated on its own merits.  For example a complex proposal involving more than minimal risk might be approved if the principal investigator is a research-active faculty member.  An identical proposal submitted by a student conducting his or her first research project might well be disapproved.

It should be noted that federal regulations regarding human subjects of research are a "floor" and not a "ceiling" on an IRB's jurisdiction and policies.  Institutions frequently supplement federal regulations with their on policies.

The University of Richmond IRB Policy Guide provides for several UR-specific policies.

  • The University of Richmond IRB has chosen to review classroom research projects, even it those projects do not meet the federal standard that the research "contribute to generalizable knowledge." (See section 7.5 of the UR IRB Policy Guide.)
  • The UR IRB Policy Guide authorizes UR students to be the "principal investigator" on a study.  "It is the position of the IRB that students engaged in research are often in the best position to protect subjects..."  Different institutions approach the issue of students as principal investigators differently.  Like UR, the University of Virginia permits students to be principal investigators.  However, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) does not permit students to be principal researchers.  VCU's policy states that "Permanent, full time or part-time employees of Virginia Commonwealth University or the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority and non-employees holding a VCU faculty appointment may serve as principal investigator on a human research protocol. Human research conducted by student investigators must designate a non-student who meets the above criteria as principal investigator. Principal investigators are ultimately responsible for the conduct of the study and for protecting the rights and welfare of research subjects."
  • University of Richmond researchers who conduct human subjects research must successfully complete a training course on the protection of human subjects of research.  (Training is recommended but not required by federal regulations.) Applicable training requirements may be found at the Training Requirements section of this website.

Researchers with suggestions for improving the UR IRB Policy Guide should contact the IRB Chair at irb@richmond.edu.