Course-Related Research

Many academic courses at DU include instruction on research methods and research design; sometimes this is done through hands-on projects. Initially, it may appear that these types of projects require IRB review, but there are many cases in which that is not the case. The reasoning goes back to the definition of generalizable; classroom or course-related activities are often meant to specifically satisfy a curriculum requirement or to teach a particular lesson, they are oftentimes not intended to go beyond the DU classroom in a way that would suggest generalizable research.

Therefore, DU may not require IRB review of certain course-related projects that are designed to only teach DU students research methods. Exceptions may include the following: Doctoral dissertations, funded research, research conducted through collaboration external to DU, Master's theses, and Honors theses; these types of exceptions may require IRB review before students may begin their research.

  • Guidelines

    For the purpose of guidance on DU student course-related assignments that may not require IRB review, the activities may include the following:

    • Conducted during, or outside of class, with students enrolled in an official course (for credit or not for credit)
    • Conducted in fulfillment of course assignments involving interactions with individuals other than the members of the class
    • Typically initiated and competed within a single academic quarter
    • Designed to teach research methods through student interaction with individuals or data about an individual or designed to help the student understand concepts covered by the course
    • Generally not intended to create new knowledge or to lead to scholarly publication.

    Note: DU course-related research documents typically do not require IRB review and should NOT be submitted through the IRBNet system for formal review. Course-related assignments may become subject to IRB review (and be considered regulated research) if the faculty member or the student changes their plans to use the data during the data collection or after the data have been collected. If the faculty member or students wish to use data collected from class assignments for research and publication, application to the IRB for permission to use the data is required.

    Independent research projects (e.g., theses, honor projects, independent studies) conducted by students that collect data through interactions with living people or access to private information fall under the jurisdiction of the IRB. If a student, however, plans to utilize the course-related research project as part of fulfilling their program requirement for a thesis or dissertation, IRB review may be required and will need to be obtained before any research activities occur. The IRB cannot issue retrospective approval for any research project once it has been initiated or completed

  • Faculty Responsibilities

    When a class assignment is "non-research" and not under the jurisdiction of the IRB, faculty members have an affirmative obligation to ensure that students understand their ethical obligations in carrying out their assignments. Instructors should provide guidance to students collecting information so as to minimize any unwitting or unintentional harm to other students or to individuals.

    Faculty members may use a number of ways to educate students and encourage responsible interaction with others, including:

    • Reviewing student plans for classroom or group projects and suggesting improvements in design and protections for confidentiality
    • Requesting that the students take the CITI training on human subject protection before collecting information from others
    • Explaining ways in which students should be attentive to the welfare of individuals in cases in which:
      • A vulnerable population, such as young children, prisoners, or the cognitively impaired are involved,
      • There is any possibility of physical harm to the student or other individuals, and
      • The student will pose sensitive questions including topics related to sexual activity, victimization, use of alcohol or illegal drugs, or involvement of illegal activity
    • Requiring printed instructions/information on questionnaires that explain the use of the data for coursework and include the name and contact number of the instructor
    • Requiring, whenever possible, anonymous data collection so that the data are not linked to individuals
    • Requiring that information identifying individuals be kept separately from the information collected from those individuals
    • Requiring destruction of non-research data at the end of the course or within a short time afterward
    • Instructing students about the privacy and security vulnerabilities associated with networked computers
  • Forms