Protection of Human Subjects

All plans for independent work that involves research with human subjects must first be reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board. This panel is charged with protecting the rights of human research subjects in faculty, graduate and undergraduate projects.

In the case of work in the Religion Department, research with human subjects usually takes the form of interviews, participant observation at a field site, and/or collection of survey data. If you are collecting this information yourself, rather than simply working with existing interviews or survey data, your work might need to be approved by the IRB. You should review the IRB’s Decision Flowchart to help determine if you need to seek approval of your project.

If you plan to conduct research involving human subjections for your Junior Paper (even if conducted during study abroad) or your Senior Thesis, you must receive approval from the IRP prior to beginning your interviews. The Panel meets once a month, and usually asks for further information from the student, a process that takes a second month. The department recommends that Juniors complete the required paperwork by the January or February deadline to enable research from the start of the spring term. Seniors should complete the process in October or November, if possible.

You may find the IRB’s calendar here: View IRB Calendar

Instructions for Students

NOTE: Prior to submitting Questionnaire A you must complete an online training program on the protection of human subjects and submit your certification with the application.

When you are ready to complete the questionnaire, download a blank questionnaire from the IRB’s Web site. Fill out the questionnaire and take it to your advisor for review and signature before you make copies for submission to the IRB. You will also find a standard Adult Consent Form in the documentation section, which may also be necessary for you to complete as part of the questionnaire. Be sure to include all materials listed in the checklist at the end of the questionnaire.

Should you have questions as you prepare the materials, please consult IRB at irb@princeton.edu, your advisor, or the departmental representative for assistance.