Must all research be reviewed?
No, certain types of scholarly activity that are generally thought of as research may not qualify as research under the federal regulations. We refer to this scholarship as excluded, and it does not need to be seen by either a departmental reviewer or the IRB. Generally, there are three common types of studies that are excluded from IRB oversight:
Institutional Research: Research designed to evaluate internal institutional programs where the results are intended solely for internal college use.
Classroom Exercises/Student Research: Educational exercises designed to teach research skills except in cases where dissemination beyond the college (e.g. in a publication or conference presentation) is intended.
Oral History: Open-ended interviews with identifiable individuals who give their interviews with “informed consent.” (In October 2003, the US Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP) specifically excluded oral history projects from IRB review on the grounds that it does not meet the federal regulatory definition of research. For further explanation, see the American Historical Association FAQ on this topic.)
Other research may also be excluded. Questions about this should be directed to your departmental IRB representative.
Note that exclusion from IRB review does not imply that researchers are free to ignore ethical considerations. The ethical and legal standards appropriate to one’s discipline still apply. Most academic professional associations have codified and published ethical guidelines which researchers should consult.