Pilot Studies


A pilot study is a smaller-scale version of a research study. Pilot studies are conducted to determine whether full-scale research studies will result in the desired data, before going through the work of conducting a full-scale study. Data from pilot studies is typically published along with the results of the full study.

If you are simply asking a handful of colleagues or peers to look over data collection instruments for clarity and will not publish the results, this would not be considered a "true" pilot study, and as such, does not require IRB approval.

IRB Approval for Pilot Studies

If you plan to conduct a pilot study that will involve human subjects, you will need to complete and submit an IRB application along with the necessary supplemental documents. Applications and templates are provided by the IRB to ensure compliance with the federal regulations.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Indicate on your IRB application that you are seeking approval for a pilot study.
  • Provide as much detail as you can, as this will speed up the approval process.
  • Do not recruit participants or collect participant data until you receive approval from the IRB.
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