Students Conducting Research

The IRB Student Mentor is available to assist students with specific questions about the IRB process and human subjects research.

Do I Have To Submit To The IRB?

In accordance with federal regulations, the IRB requires that all human subjects’ research be prospectively reviewed by an IRB including master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, and all student research projects involving human subjects.

Students conducting Human Subjects Research (HSR), are required to complete the online human subjects education program on CITI prior to submitting their research study to the IRB.

Studies that may qualify for Not Human Subjects Research (NHSR) should also be submitted to the IRB through the iStar system in order for a determination to be made. NHSR studies do not require CITI certification.

Classroom assignments do not meet the federal definition of human subjects research and do not require IRB approval. These projects typically fulfill a course requirement, are often completed in one semester, and are designed to teach research methods. Faculty may require students to take the “Generic Classroom” courses of the CITI training. If students or faculty are uncertain if a classroom project must be reviewed by the IRB, they should contact the IRB.

At USC, students involved in classroom assignments are encouraged to follow the University’s Code of Ethics and policies when designing and conducting projects with human volunteers.

Faculty members assigning projects in research methods classes are expected to help students understand ethical obligations toward anyone with whom they interact to complete their assignments.

Ready To Submit To The IRB?

Once you have discussed your research project with your faculty advisor, and feel comfortable submitting to the IRB, you will need to follow these steps.

1. Investigators must submit IRB applications through the online IRB Submission Tracking and Review (iStar) system. Click here for information on how to obtain an account

2. Obtain appropriate certification from CITI. (Not required for NHSR studies)

3. Log in to iStar and submit your HSR/NHSR application. To submit a new study in iStar, click on the “My Home” tab in the top right corner of the screen, then in the left side bar click on either “New Study” for Human Subjects Research (HSR) applications. To submit a NHSR application in iStar, click on “Does my project qualify as “Not Human Subjects Research? (USC Only) NHSR?”

4. Once your application is submitted, the iStar system will send it to your Faculty Advisor for review and approval. Once approved, the research study is then sent to the IRB for review and approval.

5. IRB might return the application back to the Principal Investigator for more information or corrections.

6. Turn-Around Time: All iStar applications are reviewed in the order received.  Review time is dependent upon the number of studies in queue, but is approximately 5-10 working days for expedited or exempt submissions. Full-Board studies are reviewed, per the IRB meeting schedules. 

7. Once the IRB has approved your study, you may begin your research.

8. Subsequent reviews, amendments, and reportable events must also be submitted through iStar.

IRB Guidance

Types of IRB Review
Model IRB Applications
Expedited vs Exempt Studies…perspective of an IRB reviewer

Research Guidance