Sponsored Programs & Research Compliance

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Human Subjects Research (IRB)

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In order to protect the rights of human subjects used in research, UNCW has its own federally mandated Institutional Review Board (IRB). Faculty members from a variety of scientific and non-scientific disciplines and a community representative serve on this committee to review and approve research projects involving human subjects. The Research Integrity Office (RIO) is the administrative office that coordinates the activities of the IRB.

According to UNCW IRB policy, all research projects involving human subjects must be approved by the IRB. UNCW will not accept funding for human subject research from an external agency without documentation of IRB approval.

If your research qualifies for a determination of exemption or expedited review, please submit requests for approval to the IRB at least ten (10) days prior to the anticipated start date of the activity to allow adequate time for review, revision and approval.  Studies requiring full board review must be submitted according to the deadlines posted below.

Does the Activity You Plan to Conduct Require IRB Approval?

Research, as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Human Research Protections, means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. The Research Decision Chart may help you determine if the activity you plan to conduct fits this definition.  If after reviewing this chart you find your activity does not meet the IRB definition of "research," you may want to review the Quality Improvement/Quality Assurance (QI-QA)/Program Evaluation Decision Chart for more guidance.

Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information. The Human Subjects Decision Chart may help you determine if your research involves the use of human subjects.

If you are a capstone student in the MPA program, you might find this resource helpful to determine if your study requires IRB approval or not.

After reviewing these materials, if you find that the activity you plan to conduct is not subject to IRB approval, best practice is to submit a brief notification to the IRB through IRBIS (see below) to obtain an official determination.  To do this, begin completing a new application and indicate in the screening questions which aspect is not applicable (research or human subjects).  There will be a few more brief questions to describe your study.  If planning to conduct a survey you must upload a copy so that the IRB can confirm it does not meet the definition of human subjects research.

NEW!! IRB Submission System "OSPREY"

As we’ve announced by email, we are on the verge of transitioning to a new IRB submission system!  So that we can provide a smooth transition, no new IRB requests (new studies or new requests to modify studies) may be submitted in our outgoing IRBIS system.  You may still access IRBIS to download records or proceed with requests already in progress.  Go to IRBIS for these limited activities.

Beginning July 5, 2022, IRB submissions must be completed in the new IRB module in the OSPREY research administration systemYou can access OSPREY here; however the IRB module will not be live until July 5. 

"OSPREY" (Online Sponsored Programs & Research Enterprise sYstem) will be a one-stop-shop for all your research administration needs, including proposal development, grant management, conflict of interest reporting and applications to conduct human subjects research (IRB).  You can find out more about OSPREY here.

Please be patient as we develop new How To's, videos and other resources for the new IRB module in OSPREY.  In the meantime, begining July 5 we are hosting vitual tours of OSPREY.  These will be structured orientation sessions for OSPREY in general and the new IRB module in particular.  If you need assistance completing an application, you may request a one-on-one IRB clinic by appointment only.  To log into a tour, see the schedule below.  To request a one-on-one clinic, please email irb@uncw.edu.

Virtual Tours

Please use this Zoom link for all meeting times below:

Passcode is 274196  (A waiting room is set)

IRB training dates
Day Date Time
Tuesday July 5, 2022 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Tuesday July 5, 2022 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Tuesday July 5, 2022 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Tuesday July 5, 2022 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Wednesday July 6, 2022 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Wednesday July 6, 2022 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Wednesday July 6, 2022 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Wednesday July 6, 2022 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Thursday July 7, 2022 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Thursday July 7, 2022 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Thursday July 7, 2022 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Thursday July 7, 2022 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Friday July 8, 2022 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Friday July 8, 2022 11:30 am - 12:30 am

Please note that these will be structured "tours" of OSPREY in general and the new IRB module.  Additional sessions will be added on an as-needed basis.  If you need assistance completing an application, please email irb@uncw.edu to request a one-on-one IRB clinic meeting.

Notices and Updates

The UNCW IRB is continuing to offer all services virtually.  We are available to conduct virtual training presentations and assist with completing IRBIS applications.  Please contact us at IRB@uncw.edu for assistance.

COVID-19 Updates:

At the current time, face-to-face research is permitted. Please visit UNCW's Best for the Nest website for resources and guidelines related to COVID-19. Naturally, UNCW researchers are expected to comply with federal, state, local government, and university restrictions and instructions regarding COVID-19, such as requirements on wearing face coverings indoors. The safety of UNCW personnel and human subjects is paramount. 

The informed consent addendum document, that discusses the health and safety guidelines during a pandemic, is no longer required to be provided to research subjects to sign.

Please contact IRB@uncw.edu if you have any questions about conducting face-to-face human subjects research while pandemic conditions remain.


IRB Meeting Schedule and Submission Deadlines

The IRB typically meets on a monthly basis to review protocols subject to full committee review. Following is the meeting schedule and submission deadlines. Researchers must submit their Human Subject Protocol forms by the submission deadline in order to receive IRB review on the desired meeting date. Researchers should plan accordingly to avoid delays.

Please note: minimal risk activities involving populations that are not considered vulnerable are generally not subject to full committee review. The IRB determines the appropriate form of review. The following submission deadlines do not apply to protocols qualifying for exempt or expedited review, which are accepted on a continuous basis.  If your study does not require review by the full board, please submit requests for approval at least ten (10) days prior to the anticipated start date of the activity to allow adequate time for review, revision and approval.

IRB Meeting Dates and Submission Deadlines



July 20, 2022*

August 3, 2022*

August 24, 2022

September 7, 2022

September 21, 2022

October 5, 2022

October 19, 2022

November 2, 2022

November 23, 2022

December 7, 2022











*Pilot:  Summer Meeting

IRB meetings held during the 2022-2023 academic year will be conducted via Zoom.

IRB Consent Templates

All research studies approved by the UNCW IRB require an informed consent process that demonstrates that the researcher has adequately informed subjects of what researchers are asking them to do.  But not all studies require the use of the standard consent process, which is asking the research subject to physically sign a multiple page, written document that contains all elements of informed consent.

Studies that qualify for an exemption based upon certain regulatory categories can use an alternate consent process, such as providing a brief, one-page consent form, obtaining verbal consent from subjects just prior to research participation, or by providing a brief consent message at the top of a survey. The UNCW IRB has created several informed consent templates that can be customized to your particular research study. 

Alternative Consent Formats

The templates below may be appropriate when a study is low risk and uncomplicated, and subjects are adults.  The use of these alternate forms for non-exempt studies may require the submission of the Informed Consent Checklist (see below).

Standard Consent Template

If your research has a more complicated study design (follow-up participation, interventions that warrant a more detailed explanation, or involves deception), you will be required to use the standard consent template.

Research With Children

If your research study seeks to conduct research with minors (under 18 years old), you will be required to provide a parental permission form and a child assent form.

If your study involves the use of younger children, you may want to consider using an alternate assent format.  Below are two examples of how you can obtain assent from younger children.

Informed Consent Checklist

IF you use an alternative consent format for a non-exempt study, you must also complete and submit the Informed Consent Checklist to demonstrate that you remembered to include all of the elements of informed consent that are required by federal regulations:

  • Human Subjects Informed Consent Checklist
    (NOTE: This additional form is NOT required when using one of the standard templates above or when a study qualifies for an exemption.)

COVID-19 Addendum

This addendum is not required at this time due to current CDC, state and university recommendations. However, we are keeping it posted for now in case pandemic conditions return.

IRB Training Requirements

Any person involved in the design and/or conduct of a human subject research project must complete the approved online human subject protections training program offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI).

Any researcher who will work with sensitive data or protected health information must complete an additional course on data privacy and security. Courses on FERPA and Good Clinical Practice for Social & Behavioral Research are also available for those interested.

Click here for Instructions on how to register for the correct CITI courses (PDF)  We strongly recommend that you use these instructions when enrolling in CITI Program online courses to avoid enrolling in the incorrect course, as there are numerous courses offered.

If you experience difficulty using the CITI website, please check to see if you are using a current version (issued within last 3-4 years) of one of the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari.

Go to UNCW IRB Policy

Standard Operating Procedures

SOP 1.1 Not Human Subjects Research (NHSR) Activities
SOP 4.1 Member Selection, Resignation, Removal Procedures
SOP 5.1 Exemption Determinations
SOP 5.2 Expedited Review Procedures
SOP 5.3 Full Board Review Procedures
SOP 6.1 Training Requirements
SOP 6.2 Online Research Procedures
SOP 6.3 Anonymous Surveys and Questionnaires
SOP 6.4 Research Involving Other Institutions
SOP 6.5 International Research
SOP 6.6 Deception
SOP 6.7 Adverse Event, Unanticipated Problem Reporting Procedures
SOP 6.8 Informed Consent Procedures
SOP 9.1 Conflict of Interest Evaluation Procedures
SOP 10.1 Research Audit Procedures
SOP 11.1 Findings of Noncompliance

IRB Contact Information

IRB Officials

Tell the IRB team in the Research Integrity Office how we're doing on this quick, 4-question survey, which you can also access by scanning this QR code!


Additionally, please be aware that the Office of Internal Audit at UNCW maintains an anonymous reporting tool to facilitate reporting of allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of funds. Concerns about ethical practices may also be reported anonymously to the State Auditor’s Fraud and Abuse Hotline by calling 1-800-730-8477 or filing a complaint online at http://www.ncauditor.net/HotTips/.