e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Policies and Procedures Assessment Office


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Institutional Review Board Guidelines

Basic Guidance on the Need to Submit an Application to the Institutional Review Board (IRB)

SUNY ESF receives federal funding for research; therefore, any research associated with the College is required to undergo IRB approval through Syracuse University. ESF is required to follow the federal regulations in regards to human subject's research conducted by individuals affiliated with the institution. SU's Institutional Review Board reviews ESF research that meets the definition of human participant research as defined by the federal regulations (Regulations and Ethical Guidelines).

When is IRB oversight required?

Note: Approval from the IRB must be obtained prior to the formal recruitment of participants, obtaining informed consent, or initiation of research activities.

A project must receive IRB oversight if it meets the definition of human subjects' research.

Research is defined as a systematic investigation leading to generalizable knowledge. Human subjects’ research is defined in the federal regulations as “A systematic investigation leading to generalizable knowledge where there is an interaction or intervention with an individual, or private identifiable data is collected about an individual.”

Generalizable knowledge includes the following:

  • The knowledge will contribute to a theoretical framework of an established body of knowledge
  • The primary beneficiaries of the research are other researchers, scholars and practitioners in the field of study
  • There will be a publication, presentation or other distribution of the results intended to inform the field of study
  • The results are expected to be generalized to a larger population beyond the site of data collection
  • The results are intended to be replicated in other settings
  • There will be web based publication for professional purposes

Syracuse University's institutional policies and guidelines are located here.

When is IRB oversight not required?

IRB review is required for research projects that involve human subjects if the results will be disseminated beyond the course instructor or committee. IRB review is not required for research projects conducted solely to fulfill course requirements and the results of the classroom assignment are only used and shared as follows:

  1. In the classroom; and/or,
  2. If the project involves gathering data from or about a company, agency, or organization, the data/results are shared only with the company, agency, or organization; and/or
  3. Project results are presented at departmental or interdepartmental seminars designed to exhibit coursework or to continue the learning process related to presentations.

HOWEVER: If data will be shared beyond the circumstances described above (e.g. for publication, presentation at academic conferences, in thesis/dissertation, etc.) then the project must receive IRB approval prior to initiation. ESF faculty, staff and students can obtain IRB applications at Syracuse University's Office of Research Integrity and Protections website. The appropriate form should be completed and submitted to ESF's Office of Research Programs in 200 Bray Hall, 470-6606.

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