Research conducted for Cornerstone University’s internal use only is to be forwarded to the CU-IRB chair for review. The chair will determine if the research meets the criteria for not needing CU-IRB approval.

Examples of such research are in-class research exercises, surveys from the Cornerstone community, and surveys having met another university’s IRB approval but requiring distribution among the Cornerstone community.

  • For in-class exercises, faculty members should forward the description of the assignments from the syllabus to the chair. If the assignment is used every time the course is taught, the faculty member needs to only notify the chair one time.
  • For surveys distributed on campus (except those noted in #1), copies of surveys and their instructions should be forwarded to the chair. 
  • Surveys that were previously approved by another IRB must show evidence to the chair of that IRB approval, as well as a copy of the survey.

While the above research may not need formal CU-IRB approval, it is expected that all research abides by ethical codes designed for human and animal research.

If a faculty member has students conducting research for an in-class project, students should fill in a proposal similar to the CU-IRB form which should then be reviewed by the faculty member before the student conducts research. CU-IRB approval is not necessary.

WARNING: If one conducts his/her own research without CU-IRB approval, it is not covered by Cornerstone University liability insurance.

Types of Research

Ethnographic Research

  • Ethnographic research is subject to the Common Rule (“Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects,” DHHS 45 CFR 46; 
  • Although ethnographic research takes place in natural settings and differs significantly from clinical research, ethnographic research projects are subject to review by the CU-IRB to ensure that the participants in the proposed research are not harmed. 
  • Review of ethnographic research should be commensurate with the level of risk of harm vs. the potential benefits of each specific research project. The review should consider the likelihood or probability of harm, the severity of harm, and the duration of harm. Each project should be examined on its own merit.

Qualitative Research

  • Informed consent is an important part of qualitative research. Much qualitative research is exploratory, and the areas of inquiry may not be apparent even to the research team at the time the study is initiated. Qualitative research should be designed to sustain the consent process throughout the course of a subject’s participation. 
  • If identifiers must be retained (for longitudinal studies, or where subjects are videotaped or audiotaped), and if the research deals with very sensitive topics, it may be appropriate to seek a certificate of confidentiality to protect against compelled disclosure – by federal, state, or local authorities – of identifying information.

Internet Research

The internet is an insecure medium as data in transit in vulnerable. So, internet data collection is rarely private, anonymous, or even confidential. The potential source of risk is harm resulting from a breach of confidentiality. This risk is accentuated if the research involves data that places subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability or could damage their financial standing, employability, reputation or could be stigmatizing.