Students as Researchers


Step One

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student who is interested in engaging in research on human subjects, your first step is to ensure that you work closely with your faculty research advisor. He or she has agreed to provide you with close advisement regarding the research process and the ethics pertaining to research on human subjects. 

Step Two

As a student researcher, you have the same responsibility as all principal investigators to ensure that your study respects the privacy and confidentiality of the individuals in your study; that your procedures are ethical; and that your study poses minimal risk to your participants. Therefore, before you submit an ethics in human subjects research application to IRB/HSPC, you are required to complete CITI training for students researching human subjects.

Step Three

Obtain approval for your study from your faculty research advisor by going through your ethics in human subjects research application in detail. Your faculty research advisor should have worked closely with you as you filled out your application to make sure that you completed the correct application and that you completed all sections of the application accurately. This is an important step and your application will not be reviewed if you do not have the signature of your faculty advisor on the Faculty Research Advisor Assurance section of the application. 

Step Four

Submit your application and all supporting materials to the IRB/HSPC committee. In addition to the application, you will also submit all supporting materials that you plan to use on human subjects in your study. This includes all surveys, questionnaires, observational measures or instruments, recruitment emails, flyers, letters, and consent/assent documents or statements (including verbal recruitment statements). If you plan to include a population whose primary language is not English, there are additional requirements that you must follow which can be found under Submission Guidelines. Failure to include all supporting materials will significantly delay the review of your application.

Step Five

Wait for approval. You cannot recruit subjects for your study, obtain consent, or conduct any aspect or your study procedures prior to receiving full approval by IRB/HSPC. It is uncommon for student researchers to receive approval with the first submission. Therefore, the committee strongly suggests that you work closely with your research advisor to develop a realistic timeline.

Faculty Research Advisor

As the research advisor of a student's research project, you serve an important and necessary function in the research process. When you agree to be a student's research advisor, you will have to certify that you carefully read, edited, and reviewed the following items associated with the study and that they are complete and correct: 1) the information provided in the application, 2) the consent form(s) associated with the study, and 3) all other documents associated with the study (interview questions, questionnaires, methodologies, etc.).

When you sign-on as a student's faculty research advisor, you agree to supervise the conduct of the study, the ethical performance of the project, the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects, and strict adherence to any stipulations imposed by the Whittier College IRB/HSPC. You are being held responsible for the study to the same extent as a principal investigator. Therefore, it is imperative that you supervise the student closely to ensure that the student principal investigator upholds all Federal, State, and local laws regarding the protection of human subjects in research. Faculty research advisors are required to complete ethics in "Human Subject Research" training for faculty through CITI. Failure to do so will delay your student's project significantly and potentially threaten his/her ability to complete the project during the planned period.

Your role is crucial to a successful research experience for our students. Please be an active and involved faculty research advisor. Thoroughly review all aspects of the ethics application before you sign the Faculty Research Advisor Assurance statement. Do not approve students' research ethics applications if they are incomplete, unprofessional, or unclear. This delays approval and strains the resources of the IRB/HSPC.