Protection of Human/Animal Subjects and the

Institutional Review Board Process

Every doctoral candidate must obtain approval to do research from UTC’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), without exception (link: Institutional Review Board). Candidates engaged in any research, regardless of venue or academic requirement, must ensure that they comply with the policies and procedures established by the review boards. As of January 1, 2017, all UTC students conducting research with human subjects or human subject data are required to complete the Human Subjects Research (HSR) BASIC online training course through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initative (CITI) prior to receiving IRB approval. For details, please visit the IRB Training website (link: IRB Training). Under Training Links, select the Tutorial for first-time or existing CITI user to access the instructions with screenshots. Note: The numbered instructions provided on the web page do not include critical steps in the registration process, therefore, candidates are strongly encouraged to refer to the tutorials with screenshots provided as links on the IRB Training web page.

Once the researcher’s Dissertation Proposal has been approved, the candidate should submit the IRB Form (link: IRB Forms) to the Dissertation course space. The application form should include the candidate’s name and UTC email address (Principal Investigator), the Chair’s name and UTC email address (Faculty Advisor), and the Learning and Leadership Program Office (Other Investigator) and email address ( Upon review and approval, the Chair will submit the IRB application electronically to the IRB office, copying the Program Office (

Doctoral candidates are not permitted to collect research data until the Proposal has been approved and the IRB office has issued an IRB approval number. Disregard of board policies and procedures may result in forfeiture of any data collected and disciplinary action. 

Historically, the purpose of the Dissertation has been to allow the candidate to demonstrate that s/he has acquired a sufficient knowledge base in his/her academic field and that s/he has attained the research skills prerequisite to the status of academic scholar. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all doctoral candidates to conduct Dissertation research in a way that  maintains the academic integrity of the endeavor. Any actions or omissions on the part of the candidate that might jeopardize that integrity will be monitored by the Dissertation Chair, committee members, and university administration. The following issues should be considered carefully:

  1. Plagiarism - The university maintains policies regarding plagiarism; the candidate should be familiar with these policies. Candidates should be aware of the rules of academic citation. As plagiarism can occur without intent, candidates should ensure that proper credit is given for work from others.

  2. Failure to Obtain IRB Approval - Once a candidate's Dissertation Proposal is approved by the Dissertation committee, the candidate, in conjunction with the Chair, will complete an application for IRB approval for research involving human subjects. Receiving IRB approval is a necessary prerequisite to data collection. If this policy is violated by data collection prior to IRB approval, all data collected to that  point will be invalidated and the candidate may be required to develop a new Proposal. The candidate could face dismissal, dependent upon the severity of the violation.

  3. Work for Hire - All aspects of the Dissertation are expected to be the original work of the candidate. Hiring outside individuals for data collection, data analysis, or writing of the Dissertation is prohibited. However, candidates may seek assistance in the form of editing or statistical data analysis with the approval of the Chair and the Methodologist. Candidates are expected to understand the distinction between hiring an outside individual for assistance and compensating an individual for completing components of the Dissertation which are to be strictly the candidate’s original work.     

Relationships with Agencies that Provide Data 

Obtaining the cooperation of agencies in research projects poses the potential to be challenging in light of previous relationships with other researchers. It is essential that candidates treat all personnel in participating organizations or institutions with respect, cordiality, and  openness. Prior to data collection, candidates should be aware of potential issues faced by agencies cooperating in research projects, including:

  • being asked to do more than they had agreed to do

  • being asked to give the project an inordinate amount of time

  • contributing to research but not receiving any useful information from it

  • being identified in research reports in unflattering ways and/or

  • being treated in ways that they consider disrespectful of their organization, institution or personnel

Some outside institutions have their own research-review procedures; candidates must follow these in addition to all procedures set forth by UTC. Study participants must know exactly what will and will not be expected of them and must be assured that that they will receive all desired information regarding the study in a timely fashion. A wise way to approach data collection with outside participants is as follows: Leave it as you found it, if not better. Consideration not only to current participants but also to potential future researchers hoping to utilize the same location is important. Further, participants ought to be cognizant of the reality that throughout the entire data collection process, they represent not only themselves but also UTC and the Learning and Leadership program, and should act accordingly.