COVID-19 Update

Please refer to IRB COVID-19 information and guidance about research.

For the protection of human subjects.

Kenyon College believes ethics and ethical principles extend to all spheres of human activity. The IRB review process and informed consent are the beginning and not the end of ethical responsibility to human research subjects. 

Kenyon College is especially concerned with and committed to safeguarding the welfare, rights and privacy of all persons who participate as subjects in research projects conducted under its auspices and to ensuring that the subjects of such research are aware of their rights and the protections available to them. Moreover, the College is required to assure the federal government that such safeguards are being provided and enforced for federally funded research involving human subjects. By reviewing proposals for research, the IRB helps to protect both the College and the researcher against potential legal implications of neglecting to address important ethical issues of participants. However, the IRB performs ethical analysis of proposed research and does not just make determinations of legal compliance. 

The Kenyon College IRB is guided by the ethical principles set forth in the Belmont Report : Respect for Persons, Beneficence and Justice. We strive to create a culture of respect for, and awareness of, the rights and welfare of human research participants while facilitating compliance by our researchers with federal regulations. 

Fulfilling our obligations under these regulations is important for several reasons other than just being in compliance with the regulations:

Following these procedures provides research subjects protection from harm that might result from their participation in research. Complying with these procedures (e.g., IRB review, informed consent, confidentiality concerns) improves the overall quality of the research we conduct and the data used in the analysis. Consideration of the confidentiality and human subject issues and compliance with the rules will allow us to continue to conduct difficult research on important societal problems and to provide a scientifically informed basis for making important policy decisions. The codes of conduct and ethical standards to which we adhere require the dutiful protection of human research subjects and confidentiality. Many of these concepts have longstanding associations with fundamental aspects of a "Liberal Arts Education" including inquiry and intellectual judgment, social responsibility, civic engagement, ethical judgment, integrity, intercultural skills.

About the Institutional Review Board

The role of the Kenyon College Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to foster ethical treatment of human research participants and to oversee all research (broadly defined) involving human subjects conducted under the auspices of Kenyon College by its faculty, students and staff. All research projects involving human subjects  regardless of the source of funding  require the review and approval from the Kenyon College IRB prior to gathering any data or information from the subjects.

The Kenyon College IRB also reviews research conducted by outside investigators involving Kenyon College students, personnel, records, or facilities. Researchers not affiliated with Kenyon College, who wish to come onto the Kenyon College campus, or use Kenyon records to identify potential subjects, must have

  1. a Kenyon sponsor, either a Kenyon College Faculty Member or Administrator, and
  2. provide the Kenyon IRB administrator with a previously approved application from the registered IRB at the institution with which they are affiliated. (preferably an IRB that has an FWA.) and
  3. provide the Kenyon IRB administrator with proof of training in Human Subjects Protections. (CITI certificate or other equivalent documented training is acceptable.)
  4. submit a completed Kenyon application to the Kenyon College IRB. The outside researchers must have approval from the Kenyon College IRB before they are allowed any access to Kenyon College records or contact with Kenyon College students or personnel.

The ultimate responsibility for the ethical treatment of human research subjects rests with the researcher. Researchers' informed participation in this process helps to ensure a positive, ethical and responsible climate for scholarly research at Kenyon College. Ethics should never be sacrificed to expediency.

All Kenyon College researchers involved in human subjects research must complete the requisite training. Outside researchers must have proof of human subjects protection education. 

Review of all research proposals involving human subjects research must take place prior to the commencement of such research.

Research involving human subjects carried on at, by or under the auspices of Kenyon College must comply with the College's IRB procedures. The IRB reviews research proposals that contemplate a "systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalized knowledge" (45 CFR 46.102d.) Generalizable knowledge means research findings that apply to individuals and circumstances beyond those being studied. Results of a study are considered generalizable if they have relevant characteristics of and implications for more individuals than those in the sample studied. "Generalizable" also frequently implies that research findings will be published, presented, or shared publicly in some other manner at any point after the completion of the study.

The chairs of individual departments and programs and heads of administrative divisions will be responsible for reviewing and acknowledging by way of signature all research proposals involving human subjects originating with faculty members, staff, or students in their departments or divisions prior to submission of such proposals to the IRB. The chairs and heads will make a recommendation to the IRB as to the level of review: exempt, expedited, or full. see Review Categories

The IRB administrator and/or chair will consider each application and decide if the proposal needs no further review (exempt) or requires an expedited or full review. The initial review of any research protocol starts with the determination of:

  • whether an activity is Human Subjects Research,
  • if it can qualify for an Exemption from further IRB review, or
  • if the review may be performed by Expedited procedures, or
  • if the protocol must undergo a Full Board Review and
  • whether informed consent or its documentation may be waived or altered (A consent/assent process or waiver is expected even for Exempt projects).