What is the Institutional Review Board?

The Institutional Review Board's purpose is to review proposed research studies involving human participants to safeguard the rights, safety, and welfare of people involved in research activities conducted at or sponsored by the University of St. Thomas. The University is officially registered in a Federalwide Assurance with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through which the University assures that all activities related to human subjects research, regardless of source of support, will be approved by the IRB in accordance with federal regulations and ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report. 

As a Catholic institution, the mission of the University of St. Thomas obligates members of the college community "to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good." The research community can support the University mission by striving to ensure the respect and welfare of every research participant.

What do Tommies have to say about their research and the IRB review process?

Have you wondered what it is like to conduct human subjects research? Read the experiences of St. Thomas students who have had their research approved through the IRB process.

Alyssa Eggersgluss is a senior studying Vocal Music Education and working at the Playful Learning Lab. Alyssa’s motivation for studying Music Education is to teach children empathy and compassion. Alyssa completed a Young Scholars Grant research project over Summer 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. AnnMarie ThomasAlyssa researched how experiencing music through touch and sight influences a person’s desire to partake in music. Alyssa hopes to understand how engaging physically and visually with music affects deaf and hard of hearing students’ encounters with music. Alyssa's goal is to develop lessons for music educators to make music making music accessible to students from all backgrounds.  

Alyssa worked with the Metro Deaf School and Minnesota Children’s Museum to recruit participants and perform workshops. She describes her experience with the IRB as a great learning opportunity. “At first it seemed daunting, but once I started the process, they were so helpful,” says ExerguesAlyssa believes going through the process helped her think through her research plan and reflect about effective and ineffective ways to conduct her study.  

Alyssa’s project required cooperation from many partners in both the development and execution of the music sessions. Alyssa found recruitment to be the largest limitation; despite the team’s use of social media, organizational advertising, and on-site announcements, fewer participants attended than anticipated.  

Alyssa recommends students read through the IRB application and materials before they get too deep into project design.  Alyssa’s favorite parts of doing research were working with people, completing untraditional and fun activities, and making discoveries that can help others.  

Eric Mortensen is a graduate student in Counseling Psychology. His first research experience was as a master’s student. Eric works as a graduate assistant for Dr. Kurt Gehlert and is completing research for his dissertation. He primary method of data collection is through administering qualitative interviews.

Eric says the greatest limitation he faces is recruitment of participants. His protocol is on its eighth amendment and he is working on ways to adjust their recruitment procedure to promote participation. His research experience has taught him how to think critically and problem solve by being persistent and adaptable.

Eric suggests that students preparing protocols for the IRB should spend time thinking about their research questions and utilize library resources to review what is out there concerning their topic. He advises students to get to know their target population or community to identify challenges with recruitment.