Frequently Asked Questions

Select a topic below:


What is the difference between confidentiality and anonymity?

  • Confidentiality means that you know who gave what response, but you will keep their identity private.
    • Example: A face to face interview.
  • Anonymity means that you have no way of knowing who gave what response.
    • Example: An anonymous online survey.

For more information, visit the Confidentiality page.


Why didn't the IRB return all of my documents after reviewing them?

The IRB only returns documents if revisions are required or if clarification is needed. If you do not receive a document back from the IRB after submitting it for review, this means that the document has met all of the IRB's requirements and can be used once you receive your IRB approval letter.


What is the IRB process?

  1. Obtain chair or mentor approval to begin your research (for Student Research).
  2. Submit your application and supporting documents to the IRB.
  3. Your application will receive a number, and will go through "preliminary review".
  4. Revisions will be requested.
  5. Once revisions are accepted, the IRB issues an approval letter.

For more information, read the IRB Review Process.


Do I need IRB approval to start collecting data?

Yes. You cannot start collecting data without an approval letter from the IRB.


How long will it take to get my study approved?

The general timeline is one to two months. Simple projects may take as little as one month, but more complicated projects may take up to two months.


Which application do I use?

The School of Divinity IRB application should only be used by students enrolled in a program within the Rawlings School of Divinity.


What if I want to compensate my participants?

In general, you are welcome to provide compensation to your participants, however, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Certain states outlaw the use of lotteries, raffles, or drawings as a means to compensate or recruit research participants. Please keep this in mind as you design your research project. If you need assistance, contact the IRB.
  • Any compensation above $600 within a single year is considered income and must be filed on the participant's taxes.
  • If your study is grant funded, you may need to work with the Grants Office to properly compensate your participants.