The Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews research with human participants to ensure the dignity, privacy, and wellbeing of individuals are protected. The IRB emphasizes the consent process to support informed participation in research.

OneStThomas

For Student, Staff, and Faculty Researchers: IRB review and application process information is now available on the IRB OneStThomas site and is no longer accessed through this webpage. 

COVID-19 Response Information

(Updated June 15, 2021)

The University of St. Thomas IRB places the health of all individuals as a priority as COVID-19 continues to impact our communities. Researchers are encouraged to continue to conduct research in a remote manner when possible. As of June 15, 2021, the IRB is allowing in-person research to resume with IRB approval and COVID-19 safeguards in place. Please review these FAQs prior to submitting your IRB application and contact the IRB office with questions. 

Limitations to participant interaction to avoid the spread of COVID-19 remains important. All research that can be done remotely must be completed in a remote setting. This includes all surveys, interviews, recruitment methods, and focus group research which can be completed using survey software, phone calls, and online interview platforms. Only research that cannot reasonably be completed online, such as research requiring the use of sensors or other lab equipment, can receive approval to be conducted in person. 

Only researchers with permission from the IRB office conduct in-person research with participants. Applications requesting approval for in-person research must include a COVID-19 safety plan to address the following requirements: 

  • Only one researcher and one participant may meet per research session unless two researchers are required for safety purposes; 
  • Interactions must be limited to 15 minutes or less;
  • Researchers must wash hands before and after a session with a participant; 
  • Hand sanitizer must be used by a participant at the start of a research session;
  • Researchers and participants must take their temperature the same day of the research session and the session must be rescheduled if necessary;
  • Masks must be worn by the researcher and participant throughout the research session; and
  • Classroom and lab spaces and equipment must be cleaned before and after each session in compliance with University cleaning procedures. 

Zoom or other video conferencing software may be used for online interviews. Please consider the following when designing your procedures: 

  • If your project involves sensitive information, contact the IRB office for information about using the HIPAA compliant version of Zoom. 
  • We are finding that when Zoom connections are disrupted during a meeting, the entire recording is lost. Consider using an external device, such as a digital audio recorder or smartphone, to audio record interviews. Test for audio clarity first. 
  • If your project involves sensitive information, the IRB may request that you do not record video in Zoom to provide security for participants. 

Consider the following when planning your consent process: 

  • Send the consent form to your participants before the meeting so the participant has time to read through it prior to the consent discussion.
  • If asking participants to email the consent form back to you, verify that the participant has a way to provide a written signature and scan the completed consent form. Typed signatures are not permissible. 

The IRB is continuing to evaluate communication from the University, the State of Minnesota, and our regional and national colleagues to determine when researchers may continue in-person research and recruitment procedures. The IRB office will communicate decisions by email and keep the IRB website current. Currently, only remote/online data collection is allowable for survey, interview, and focus group procedures. 

Please email Sarah Muenster-Blakley at muen0526@stthomas.edu to set up an online meeting. Meetings can take place via telephone call, Zoom, or Teams.