Institutional Review Board

This committee of faculty, staff, students, and community members reviews proposals from individuals conducting research using human participants.

The review process ensures that all research conducted at the College adheres to federal guidelines based on the principles of justice, beneficence, and respect for all persons. Faculty, staff, and students designing research studies involving human participants must secure IRB approval prior to data collection.

What type of projects need IRB approval?

Research is a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. All research collecting identifiable private information from living persons and/or using intervention or interaction to study living persons requires IRB review and approval prior to initiation. Studies conducted by students, faculty, or staff which will be used to fulfill senior thesis requirements or to serve as the basis for poster sessions, conference presentations, or professional publications require IRB oversight. Student investigators must have a faculty sponsor supervise their research.

Do I need IRB approval for course assignments?

Course assignments collecting data from human participants may or may not meet the definition of research. Generally speaking, if data are collected for course projects but will go no further than presentation or discussion within the classroom, IRB review and approval is not needed. However, course projects that will be presented on campus or at professional conferences, submitted for publication, and/or used to fulfill thesis requirements require IRB review and approval.

In order to teach students about research ethics and the IRB process, we encourage instructors to submit exempt course assignments for a nonobligatory review. Instructors may submit course assignments using the Course Research Projects Faculty Application and the Course Research Projects Student Application found on this page.

Course assignments that do not require IRB review should follow ethical standards established by the professional organization of the appropriate discipline. Course instructors are responsible for ensuring that student research projects exempt from IRB review are designed and conducted based on principles of justice, beneficence, and respect for all persons.

How do I submit an IRB application for a new project?

For instructions on how to submit your application, visit our Moodle page at (login required).

Who serves on the IRB?

The board is currently made up of the following members:

  • Leah Elliott, Assistant Professor of Biology, Co-Chair
  • Deborah Gagnon, Professor of Psychology, Co-Chair
  • Phillip Guingona, Assistant Professor of History, Co-Chair
  • Daniel Renfrow, Associate Professor of Sociology, Co-Chair
  • Jennifer Suriano, Assistant Professor of Education, Co-Chair

For more information about the Wells College Institutional Review Board, please contact us at