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Publishing Guide: Rasmussen College Institutional Review Board

Publishing information and resources for Rasmussen College faculty and staff.

Rasmussen College Institutional Review Board

Rasmussen College established an Institutional Review Board (IRB) in 2016, and it typically meets once per quarter and is chaired by Dr. Matthew Segaard, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Assessment.  The IRB was formed to evaluate research project applications from internal or external researchers, and the IRB strives to protect the rights of research subjects, including personally identifiable and/or proprietary institutional data.  In addition, the Rasmussen College IRB may provide guidance to researchers on the design of their research projects.  At this time, research requests are primarily from individuals pursuing degrees at other institutions.  With the advent of graduate education at Rasmussen College, however, the IRB will be available to review such requests from our own graduate students, faculty, and staff as needed.

Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board Project Review Survey Applications can be found at the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment Sharepoint site, at the following location: http://tinyurl.com/rasmussenirb

IRB Human Subjects Research Policy

Rasmussen College is committed to ethical and compliant research involving our students, faculty, and staff. Students, faculty, staff and individuals outside of the College intending to conduct research involving proprietary information and/or human subjects affiliated with the college must first receive approval from the Rasmussen College Institutional Review Board (IRB).

It is the responsibility of Rasmussen College to ensure that the rights and well-being of human subjects participating in any research affiliated with the College be adequately protected.  All research participants are to be fully informed regarding such research; participants must be able to participate willingly and must be allowed to withdraw from participation in the research at any time without penalty.  Participants may not be coerced into participating, and participants’ identities must be kept confidential. 

In addition to protecting the rights of human subjects participating in research, Rasmussen College is responsible for upholding the academic freedom of the researcher.  As such, College policies and procedures are intended to protect research participants from harm, while maintaining College, federal, and ethical standards and professional responsibilities, without unduly limiting the ability of researchers to conduct effective systematic studies.

Research – Systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute generalizable knowledge.  This includes original studies, as well as replications of previous studies, conducted by faculty, staff, students, or others.

Human Subjects – An individual from whom the researcher obtains data through an interaction, or other identifiable private information. 

Institutional Review Board (IRB) – A body established by Rasmussen College to implement this policy.

Institutional Review Board Approval – Determination that a research request has been formally reviewed and approved, in accordance with stipulations spelled out in this policy.

All research involving human subjects must be submitted to the Rasmussen College Institutional Review Board for review.  No research can occur until the research proposed has been reviewed and approved.  It is expected that research proposals involving human subjects will satisfy the following conditions:

Minimal Risk
Research procedures should be designed so that the risk to participating subjects is limited, and would be no greater than the risk typically experienced during participation in normal activities or routine studies.  Any risks should be considered in relation to the potential benefits of conducting the research.

Confidentiality
Research procedures shall not disclose confidential information, including names or other identifying personal information, other than to the researchers themselves.  In addition, adequate provision must be given to ensuring the confidentiality of information for an extended period of time.

Informed Consent
No researcher may involve human subjects in research unless the subject has been informed about the nature of the research and the potential risks and benefits, and until documented consent has been obtained from the subject.  In short, the informed consent process allows study subjects to voluntarily decide whether or not to participate in the research project based on the researcher’s description of the project at the outset, as well as continued participation as the researcher provides updates during the course of the project to the best of his or her knowledge.

Membership
Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board shall be comprised of at least five members.  In accordance with these guidelines, the College has identified the following member roles for its Institutional Review Board:

  1. Chair; this role to be filled by the Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Assessment
  2. Compliance Expert; this role to be filled by the Director of Regulatory Compliance 
  3. A full-time faculty member; this role to be filled by a faculty member from Rasmussen College
  4. An Academic Affairs Dean/Deans; this role to be filled by a Rasmussen Dean with an earned doctorate

An external member, not directly affiliated with the institution.

Excluded Activities
Excluded from review by Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board are the following:
1. Activities that are not research
2. Research that does not involve human subjects, or records or materials gathered from human subjects.
3. Research conducted by College personnel for internal use only, such as for a program review or institutional retention study.

Exempt Review
(See the IRB Exempt Review Project Survey Application - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/IRBExemptApp)
Exempt activities are subject to review by Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board, although they may follow a less stringent and more streamlined review process.  The following are exempt activities:
1. Research that is conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings involving normal educational practices.*
2. Research that is conducted as part of an existing course, with those who are registered for the course.
3. Research that uses existing data, documents, records, and specimens. Note: To qualify for this exemption, ALL of the data, documents, records, or specimens intended for inclusion must be in existence before the project begins.
* Examples of “commonly accepted educational settings” and “normal educational practices” are:

  • A project that compares teaching strategies of two instructors by collecting surveys from students in each class and interviewing each instructor. 
  • Interviewing nursing faculty to obtain their opinion regarding a recent curriculum change.
  • Conducting a focus group to obtain feedback regarding the effectiveness of live lectures.


Expedited Review
(See the IRB Expedited Review and Full Project Review Application - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/IRBApp)

The following activities are subject to an expedited review:
1. Research that is considered minimal risk. (For example, a project where participants complete an activity that causes no emotional change or psychological stress beyond what they experience in a typical day.  No physical or emotional harm, whether real or perceived, is experienced by participants.)  
2. Research on individual or group behavior or characteristics where research does not cause stress to the subject and confidentiality is maintained.
3. Research involving deception that poses no more than minimal risk.
4. Performance of non-invasive tests, collection of data using noninvasive procedures, or collection of blood samples by finger stick or venipuncture by trained personnel.
5. Research using existing documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens.

Full Review (See the IRB Expedited Review and Full Project Review Application)

The following activities are subject to a full review:
1. Research with greater than minimal risk (such as injections, or research involving potential emotional harm).
2. Research of a sensitive nature.
3. Research with vulnerable populations (children, prisoners, pregnant women, cognitively impaired individuals, non-English or English as second language speakers, or economically/educationally disadvantaged individuals).
4. Research involving invasive procedures, research inducing physical pain or potential injury.

Research Proposal Submission Steps
Proposals involving research on human subjects shall be submitted to Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board for review.  Data collection cannot begin until full approval has been granted by the board.  Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board may also require modification of proposals before such approval can be granted.

Review Procedures by IRB
Upon receipt of a proposal, the Chair of Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board will determine if the proposal requires exempt, expedited, or full review. 
1. Exempt or expedited reviews may be conducted by the Chair, and/or by one or two board members appointed by the Chair for this purpose.  The Chair and/or the appointed members may approve proposals conducted via the exempt or expedited review process.  If such proposals are denied, however, they must go to the entire board for a review. 
2. Exempt or expedited reviews may also be referred to the entire board for review if warranted, as determined by the Chair.  In situations where proposals are reviewed by the entire board, a majority vote shall decide if approval is warranted.
3. Full reviews shall be conducted by the entire board.  In the case of a full review, a majority vote shall decide if approval shall be granted.

IRB Meeting Schedules
Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board will meet on a regular basis to ensure that proposals are considered at appropriate intervals.

Documentation of approval/denial
Actions of Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board will be recorded on the approval form, with one copy returned to the researcher and one copy placed in a permanent file under the supervision of the Chair.

Monitoring process
Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board shall conduct continuing review of research covered by this policy at intervals appropriate to the degree of risk.

The following forms must be used for submission of proposals for review:
Rasmussen College IRB Exempt Review Project Application
Rasmussen College IRB Expedited Review and Full Project Review Application

In order to approve research covered by this policy, Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board shall determine that all of the following requirements are satisfied:

1. Risks to Subjects are minimized
2. Risks to Subjects are reasonable in relation to benefits of research
3. Selection of subjects is equitable
4. Informed Consent will be sought from study participants
5. Informed Consent will be appropriately documented
6. The research plan makes provisions for carefully monitoring the data collection processes
7. There are adequate provisions to maintain the confidentiality of the data, the privacy of the subjects, and the identity and reputation of the institution (Rasmussen College). 

Rasmussen College’s Institutional Review Board has the authority to suspend or terminate approval of research that is not being conducted in accordance with the board’s requirements or that has been associated with unexpected serious harm to subjects.  Any suspension or termination of approval shall include a statement of the reasons for the board’s action and shall be reported promptly to the researcher and the Chief Academic Officer/Vice President of Academic Affairs.

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