IRB

The reason there’s so much work on the front end of a study is IRB approval. The IRB (Institutional Review Board) oversees research involving human subjects at an institution (in this case IU) and we need their approval before we can start seeking participants or collecting data. Most research institutions have their own IRBs (or similar oversight office) and they exist to protect research participants from (un)intentional harm or risk. They have a somewhat dramatic history, but are largely routine now. A study like ours—very low risk and non-invasive—undergoes what is called Exempt Review, the lowest level. (Expedited is the middle level, and the highest is Full-Board Review.) Because we’re not collecting sensitive data (grades, assignments, GPA) and there’s no intervention involved, we just need to have our materials approved to make sure that we’re accurately representing our study and the data we collect. This includes the instrument itself (in this case a Qualtrics survey), any planned interview questions, the study information sheet (require disclosures), recruitment materials, and any survey data. To that end, I had to design the flyers that we intended to post and draft all of the communication we were going to use to get people to sign up for the study, on top of the actual documents that go into the study itself.

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