Human Participants Review Board

Students Conducting Research for Class Assignments:

Students who are conducting research for a class assignment do NOT need to submit a proposal to HPRB as long as all of the following conditions are met:

The project does not meet the official definition of research: a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

  •  Many class assignments are intended to teach research methodologies or techniques, not to contribute to generalizable knowledge.  If this is the case, they do not need to undergo HPRB review.
  • Assignments that are designed to be generalizable, such as capstones or independent studies, should be submitted to HPRB for review.
 The project does not involve vulnerable populations.

  • If the project will include vulnerable populations, as defined by federal guidelines to include "children, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled persons or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons," then it must be submitted to HPRB for review.
The project does not involve more than minimal risk.

  • Minimal risk is defined by federal guidelines as "the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests."
  • Projects that involve more than minimal risk, such as those that ask participants to reveal seriously incriminating information, should be submitted to HPRB for review.
The results of the project will not be disseminated beyond PLU.

  • If results of the project will be presented outside of PLU, such as at a regional or national conference, or submitted for publication, the project must be submitted to HPRB for review.
  • Post-facto approval is not possible.  Thus, if a student feels like they may want to present or publish her/his findings outside of PLU, they should submit a proposal prior to any work with human subjects.
  • Presentation at PLU, such as in a course, department, or School presentation, is allowed even without HPRB approval.

    Information for Faculty

     Faculty are responsible for teaching their students about ethical research and ensuring that their students achieve the highest standards of research ethics. 

    Although class assignments that meet the above criteria are not required to be submitted to HPRB for approval, we offer the following guidelines to faculty who assign such projects:

    • HPRB strongly recommends that instructors require all students who will be interacting with human participants to complete the HPRB proposal as part of the class assignment, even though this proposal will not be forwarded to HPRB.  This will (1) educate students about the research process and the importance of peer review of research ethics in that process; (2) prepare students to complete the proposal for HPRB submission if and when they conduct independent research projects; and (3) allow the instructor to provide detailed feedback to each student about the ethics of his/her project.
    • Faculty need to be aware of the kind of projects their students are involved in and to advise students away from projects that students are not prepared to conduct.  For example, students engaging in their first research project should be advised against projects that are too sensitive or complex given their current level of expertise.
    • HPRB will offer consultation and training to faculty who assign research-based projects in their courses so that faculty may adequately educate their students about the process.  The current CITI Training also provides this education for both faculty and students.
    • HPRB members will be available to assist instructors and to answer questions about the ethical considerations for specific projects.  If instructors have special concerns about the ethics of a specific student project, this project may be referred to HPRB for full review.