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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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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 at irb@liberty.edu.
  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?


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, review the Raffle Laws document, or 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.

I received a "Not Ready for Review" email. Now what?

The IRB issues not ready for review, or NRR, emails if a submission does not contain all of the required submission documents. This will ultimately help you get through the IRB process in less time. The NRR process also allows our office to process applications faster because we will have all of the documentation we need from the start.

If you receive an NRR email, you likely forgot to submit a required IRB document. In most cases, this is a recruitment letter, a consent document, or one of your study instruments (e.g., survey questions or an interview guide). Simply gather the missing documents together and re-submit your application to the IRB. Once you submit all of the required documents, you will receive a study number and a status email.


I am an external researcher. How do I obtain approval to use Liberty participants?

If you are an external researcher (i.e., are not a current Liberty student or faculty member), you will need to have your study approved by our IRB before it can be distributed to Liberty populations. To receive this approval, please submit the following to irb@liberty.edu:

  • A brief description of your study purpose
  • A description of the Liberty population you wish to engage in the research
  • Evidence of IRB approval from your institution
  • Any study instruments (e.g., survey questions, interview guides)
  • Your recruitment materials
  • Your IRB-approved consent document

Once these items are received, the IRB will seek administrative approval for you to conduct your study with Liberty participants. Depending on the nature of the study, we may request additional information. Review of the proposed study in no way guarantees that Liberty will participate. However, Liberty supports the greater researcher community and will consider any such requests in good faith.


I am an LU researcher. How do I distribute my study materials to LU participants?

If you are an LU researcher (i.e., a current student or faculty member) and you wish to engage Liberty populations in your research study, you will first need to seek and receive IRB approval. Once you have received IRB approval, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Submit a project request to the Liberty University Marketing Department
    • For project type, you will need to select email blast/distribution
    • Attach your IRB-approved recruitment letter/email and your IRB approval letter
    • Please note, if you are a student researcher, you may need to have your faculty chair/mentor assist with this process.
  • If you will recruit Liberty University faculty or staff, you may also need to seek approval from Human Resources to distribute your study materials.

The text of the IRB approved recruitment materials should not be altered without first verifying the changes with the IRB. If the Marketing Department or Human Resources request any changes to the recruitment materials, please contact the IRB for assistance.


Do I have to complete CITI training before I submit my IRB application?

No. CITI training must be completed prior to receiving IRB approval, but you do not necessarily need to have completed CITI training to submit your application for review. We will accept the application and begin our review, but IRB approval will not be granted until CITI training has been completed by all principal investigators and co-investigators. That said, we highly encourage applicants to complete CITI training prior to submitting an application.


I am an LU researcher planning to analyze de-identified LU student data. How do I request it?

  • On the Analytics and Decision Support webpage, select Reporting & Analytics.
  • You’ll next select Submit a Ticket and be routed to the Help Desk's Service Now system.
  • Finally, complete and submit the request form.
  • Please note, if you are a student researcher, you may need to have your faculty chair/mentor assist with this process.
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