What do you need to know about the review process?
What happens once I submit my application to firstname.lastname@example.org?
The email@example.com email address is monitored daily during school hours by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). When applications are received, they are logged into a central database, assigned an IRB #, and saved to an electronic file. The ORI conducts an initial review of the application to check for completeness and obvious errors and to determine the level of review required. At this point, investigators can expect to receive an email that notifies them that their application was received and either needs to be corrected and resubmitted or has been forwarded to the committee for review. Applications classified as exempt will be reviewed by the IRB Chair only. Applications classified as Expedited will be forwarded to two committee members (selected on a rotating basis) for review. Any application may be bumped to Full Board Review at the reviewers' discretion. All reviewers' concerns will be consolidated into an Action Letter which will be emailed to the Principal Investigator and faculty advisor, if appropriate. Revisions should be made as outlined and resubmitted to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Once all reviewers are satisfied that the application is satisfactory, the PI and faculty advisor, if appropriate, will be emailed an official approval letter.
When can you start your research?
No research may proceed before the IRB office has notified the applicant that they are exempt or approved. There is no such thing as an emergency exemption/approval and no university official other than the IRB Chair may designate research as exempt or approve an application.
How will you know you are approved?
If there are no questions raised, the IRB office will email a letter of approval to the principal investigator or the faculty advisor noting that the research is approved. If the information on the application seems incomplete or raises any concerns (e.g., regarding eligibility for exempt status, invasion of the subjects' privacy, or confidentiality of research records), the applicant will receive an emailed Action Form that will outline the concerns that must be addressed in order to continue the review process.
How long will it take?
The length of the review process depends on several factors including when the application is received by the IRB, the type of review, and the quality of the application. Exempt reviews generally take about three to five days from the time the application is received by the IRB Chair. Expedited reviews are usually completed within 1-2 weeks of receipt, and full board reviews can take up to 5 weeks. The IRB Chair and Committee at UTC are not full-time staff. As such, submissions received prior to holidays and other times when faculty are very busy (Spring Break, midterms, finals) may experience delays.
Be advised that incomplete applications represent one of the main reasons applications are delayed. Be sure you have fully completed all forms and applications, included appropriate attachments, have required signatures, and request the appropriate level of review.