Policy & Procedures

[updated 22 February 2017]

In accordance with federal guidelines for the protection of human subjects, research involving human subjects is defined as any systematic investigation of living human subjects or human materials that is designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.   Human subjects research which requires review by the IRB includes faculty research, master's theses, doctoral dissertations, and senior projects as well as research conducted on campus by parties not directly affiliated with the University. While the ethical principles for research are often applicable to classroom activities, demonstrations, and assignments, the IRB does not review classroom activities unless data will be collected and used in a systematic investigation (fulfilling part of the criteria of the federal regulation defining human subjects research, HSR).

An example of when IRB oversight is not needed or required is the following.  A faculty member collects data from students to study possible means of improving graduation rates with the intention of sharing the results only within the department or college.  The operative word is "only" because the study is not contributing to generalize knowledge (often interpreted as a publication or a conference presentation, but there are other ways).  The data are being kept and used within Cal Poly.  The IRB would still recommend utilizing IRB concepts, e.g., informing the participants of what the internal study is about.  Further, the data cannot later be used in a publication except in a general way (e.g., based upon a pilot study, we learned X about Y) because the IRB did not have the opportunity to ethically review the proposed study in a protocol.  IRBs are prohibited by federal regulation from retroactively approving human studies.

The policies of Cal Poly’s IRB are fully described in the document "Policies and Procedures of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) (aka Policies and Procedures for Human Research Protection)" (PDF) as originally published on September 11, 2007. It will be updated periodically with a date notation in applicable sections - the current version is April 2015. Hard copies are available upon request from the Office of Research Compliance Associate. Please bring issues (typographical errors, questions, suggestions for inclusion, etc.) to the attention of any member of the IRB.

Section 14 contains specific and focused guidelines relating to, for example:

  • (14.14) request by unaffiliated PIs to do HSR at Cal Poly Pomona
  • (14.17) clarifying the differences in "engagement" roles between PIs and research assistants
  • (14.12 and 14.15) exempt reviews like PEIP (Policy on Education Improvement Protocols) and SAE (Studies of Assessment and Evaluation).

Do contact the IRB members and compliance associates with other questions, interpretations of federal regulations, and information about Cal Poly Pomona guidelines and policies.