Saint Bonaventure University
Department of Psychology
Handbook for Research Involving Human Participants
Before you may begin a research project involving human participants at St. Bonaventure University and/or make use of the Psychology Department Participant Pool, please read through this packet. If you intend to obtain participants via psychology majors, classes or students you will need to obtain approval from the Psychology Department’s participant pool coordinator, Dr. Robin Valeri.
Step 1: Obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval or an IRB Waiver
All research involving human subjects as participants must be submitted to the IRB for approval. IRB information can be found under Academics on the General Links page of my.sbu.edu. Please note that even if the research falls into an exempt category it must be submitted to the IRB so that unbiased reviewers may review the proposal and substantiate that the research is exempt from IRB approval. Therefore all researchers will either need to obtain IRB approval or an IRB exemption. To find out if your research is exempt from IRB approval please read the Description of Research Exempt from IRB approval.
If the proposed research is not exempt from IRB approval you will need to complete the SBU IRB Human Subjects Review forms and turn the completed forms in to the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences. Please note that much of the research involving human participants may qualify for an Expedited Review. Research eligible for an expedited review poses minimal risk to participants and/or is a procedural revision to a previously approved project.
IRB Expedited Reviews and IRB Exemptions Reviews typically take three to five business days. Because projects requiring a full review require all of the IRB members to review the proposal, a full review will take longer.
Please note you cannot begin data collection until after you have received IRB approval or an IRB Exemption Waiver.
Step 2: Accessing the Psychology Department Participant Pool
If you are planning to access the Psychology Department’s Participant Pool you will need to provide the Participant Pool Coordinator with a copy of either the IRB approval or the IRB Exemption.
The participant pool coordinator will then assign you a Research Number. This number will need to be included on the Research Participation Lists you provide faculty and on the Participation Credit Forms you give to students.
Psychology majors and students who voluntarily participate in research constitute the “Participant Pool.”
When conducting research the treatment of study participants is an extremely important consideration. Participants must always be treated in an ethical manner. It is your responsibility as a researcher to protect participants from any physical and/or mental discomfort, harm, and danger that may arise from research procedures. It is your responsibility as a researcher to detect and remove or correct any undesirable consequences, including long term effects, that may result from an individual’s participation in your research.
Also, because researchers are dependent on people to participate in current research as well as future research projects, it is important that the participants feel their time, honesty, and assistance is appreciated.
All research participants must be at least 18 year of age or have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to participate in research.
Children or people unable to give consent are considered special populations. Any research with special populations as participants must be submitted to the IRB for review.
All participants must provide informed consent before participating in the study. Informed consent requires that participants be told about all aspects of the research that may influence their decision to participate in the study. Any questions a participant has about the study should be answered before the participant gives his/her consent. Please note that informed consent does not mean you have to reveal the hypotheses but rather that you tell the participant what he/she will have to do as a research participant.
According to the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct Standard 8.02: Informed Consent to Research”:
When obtaining informed consent… psychologists inform participants about
- the purpose of the research, expected duration, and procedures;
- their right to decline to participate and to withdraw from the research once participation has begun;
- the foreseeable consequences of declining or withdrawing;
- reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected to influence their willingness to participate such as potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects;
- any prospective research benefits;
- limits of confidentiality;
- incentives (payment, extra credit, etc.) for participation; and
- whom to contact (names and phone numbers) for questions about the research and research participants' rights.
They provide opportunity for the prospective participants to ask questions and receive answers (downloaded from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx on 26 February 2010).
In addition to having a participant sign and return a consent form to the researcher each participant needs to be provided with a copy of the consent form for his/her own information and/or records.
Please note you need to obtain informed consent from participants if you are recording their voices or images.
For assistance in creating a consent form please view the Consent Form Template and Example and review the Informed Consent Checklist available on the IRB’s website.
Information obtained from a research participant during the course of a research project is confidential unless otherwise agreed upon in advance. Prior to providing informed consent participants should be informed of how the information they provide will be used and what steps will be taken to ensure confidentiality. It is your responsibility as a researcher to maintain confidentiality and to protect the anonymity and privacy of participants.
Debriefing of Participants
After the data are collected the researcher must provide the research participants with information about the nature of the study and remove any misconceptions that may have arisen. For an example of a debriefing statement please review the sample debriefing available on the IRB’s website.
The researcher should provide the research participant with contact information (name and phone number) for the researcher. If the researcher is a student than contact information for the faculty research advisor needs to be provided.
If any deception was used in carrying out the study, the researcher must inform a participant about the deception and why it was important and/or necessary to use deception.
Deception should be used only when it is vital to the research procedures or manipulation(s). Participants must never be deceived about the nature of the task that they are to perform if it may influence their decision to participate. For example, a researcher may not deceive a participant into believing that he/she will not receive an electrical shock when the converse is true. The choice to use deception as part of the experimental procedure should be carefully considered and discussed with the research advisor/instructor.
Researchers should carefully consider the risks to which their participants will be subjected. Any risk should be kept to a minimum. There is NO such thing as a no risk experiment. There is always the possibility that confidentiality might be breeched. Risks that participants encounter should not be greater than that which they encounter during daily life. Research that involves any kind of risk should be submitted for IRB approval, unless it falls into an exempt category. Where research procedures result in undesirable consequences for the individual participant, the researcher has the responsibility to detect and remove or correct these consequences, including long term effects.
- Obtain IRB approval or IRB Exemption.
- Provide Participant Pool Coordinator with either a copy of the IRB approval or IRB exemption.
- Obtain Research Number from Participant Pool Coordinator.
- Create and Post a Research Description Form and Sign-up Sheets.
- Reserve room(s) for data collection.
- Throughout your research be sure to follow APA Ethical Code Standard 8 Research and Publication.
- After you have collected data be sure to debrief the participants and thank them for their participation.
- Provide each student participant a signed Participation Credit Form that includes the research number.
- Create and provide to any and all faculty members who give extra credit for research participation Research Participation Lists. You should compile separate lists for each psychology course. Each list should include the research title, name(s) of the researcher(s), research number, and approximate time necessary for research participant to complete the study. Lists of Student Research Participants should be provided to faculty members no later than reading day.
Finally, good luck with your research endeavor.