College of Science and Health > Academics > Psychology > Research > IRB Information for Psychology Researchers > Psychology FAQ for IRB Issues

Frequently Asked IRB Questions for Psychology Researchers

Is money or credit that is given for participation a benefit?

No, it is an inducement. Do not list it as a benefit.​

Is it a benefit if the participant might learn about something we are studying?

No, that is not considered a direct benefit. Do not list it as a benefit.​

What if there are no benefits?

Simply state that there are no direct benefits to participants, but the knowledge gained from the study may provide benefits to society.​

Is Intro Psych research participation credit an inducement?

Yes, and it should be indicated in the application form and in the information sheet/or consent document as such.​

I just want to re-analyze some existing data. Do I need to do anything?

As of December 2004, no. As long as the data is anonymous or de-identified, nothing needs to be filed with the IRB at all, nor with the LRB (not even a claim of exemption). See the IRB web page for details.​

I just want to collect anonymous data. Do I need to do anything?

Yes. For data you will collect (that is not pre-existing data) you need to file a claim of exemption, even if the data will be anonymous.​

Do I have to include copies of stimulus materials with a claim of exemption?

Generally speaking, no, if you will only be re-analyzing existing data. The LRB just needs to have enough information to evaluate whether your project meets the criteria for exemption, and (usually) answering the questions on the claim of exemption form is sufficient. (But see the next question for an exception.)​

Can collecting new data ever be classified as "exempt"?

Yes, if the data collection process is completely anonymous at every step OR the research is benign (meaning that it does not place participants at risk of criminal/civil liability or damage to their financial standing, employability, or reputation) AND the research fits within one of the categories of exempt activities. There are some exceptions, so see the IRB web page for details. If you file a claim of exemption for collecting new data (such as an anonymous survey) you must include a copy of the survey with your claim of exemption.​

Can I still file a claim of exemption if I plan to recruit from the Intro Psych subject pool?

Yes, if the research is anonymous or benign and fits within one of the categories of exempt activities (see the IRB web site for details). You will need to include a copy of your debriefing sheet with your claim of exemption (required for all subject pool studies) and indicate on your LRB cover sheet the number of credit hours to be awarded.​

What about meta-analyses? Do I need to submit a claim of exemption?

No, meta-analyses use only aggregated data, not individuals' data, and therefore are not defined as "research involving human subjects" according to federal regulations. Analysis of aggregated data never requires filing any paperwork at all with the IRB.​

What about program evaluations? Do I need to ask for IRB approval?

No, program evaluations are not research. No IRB paperwork is required. Note that if you want to also use the data for research, however, you DO need to get IRB approval before beginning the project.​

What about class projects? Do I need to ask for IRB approval?

No, class research projects are not research, so long as they are only reported within the class and are only used to meet course requirements. If, however, the data will also be used in research (meaning presented in a talk, poster, or paper outside the class) then IRB approval is required before beginning the project.​

How long should I plan to keep my raw data? What should I say in the section of the IRB protocol form that asks about that?

The rules are that data containing identifiers can be stored for a maximum of 3 years before seeking IRB approval to continue keeping it longer, but completely anonymous data can be archived indefinitely. So if you need to keep identifiers linked to the data for a long time, state a time period of no more than 3 years. If your data is completely anonymous, state that "Anonymous data will be archived indefinitely." If your data initially contains identifiers that can be linked to individuals, but you only need them temporarily, state when and how you will remove all identifying information from the data, and then state that after doing so the anonymous data will be archived indefinitely.​

What does "completely anonymous" mean?

It means that there is nothing in the data that could be used to link any individual to his or her data. Data that contains names, social security numbers, or other identifying information is not anonymous. Neither is data that contains arbitrary identifiers IF there is a list linking those identifiers to individuals.​

Are Quickdata web surveys anonymous?

If you do not collect the participants' name or any other identifying information, then probably yes, it would be anonymous. (The consent form should not collect names either; just have them click "I agree.") This does NOT mean it is OK to use Quickdata to collect highly confidential information, however. If your research is asking for non-benign or more than minimal risk information, you should contact ITD and ask for help finding a computer security consultant to help you collect confidential information safely. Quickdata is not designed for surveys that require secure data transmission.​

Are Qualtrics web surveys anonymous?

For sensitive information that you want to collect fully anonymously, it is important to make sure that your survey does not record the IP address of the participant’s computer. If you go to "Survey Options" in Qualtrics and select "Anonymize Response," then the IP addresses will not be collected and your data can be fully anonymous.​​

Who should I contact if I still have questions?

First check the DePaul IRB website, and then if you still have questions contact the IRB coordinator.​

Is this information up to date?

This page was last updated on May 2, 2014.​​

Is Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) data anonymous?

No, MTurk data is not anonymous (see this article​ for details)​. There are also potential privacy issues related to the way that Amazon links data across its services.  The IRB has provided specific wording to use regarding MTurk in the Consent Form and Information Sheet templates on the DePaul IRB web site.  Be sure to use the language from the most recent versions of these documents provided by the IRB. ​​​

Can my online survey require that all questions be answered before participants receive credit?

​Yes, if the IRB approves that in your research protocol and your consent/information form clearly informs participants that they must complete the entire survey to receive credit.  Another option is to require an answer to every question but make "I prefer not to answer" one of the answer choices.