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Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects Research)


An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that has been formally designated to approve, monitor, and review scientific research involving human participants. The purpose of the IRB is to assure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating in research studies.

The primary goal of the IRB is to ensure that all human research follows the principles of the Belmont Report – “Respect for Persons” “Beneficence”, and “Justice”.  The NKU IRB is required to review and approve all human subject research before it is conducted by NKU faculty, staff and students. The NKU IRB consists of a diverse group of members from scientists to special population representatives. 


All subsequent pages on this site contain information to assist you in the process of obtaining IRB approval and managing your project post-IRB approval. Please familiarize yourself with this information before initiating the IRB process and be sure to visit the Frequently Asked Questions page. 

We look forward to working with you!





COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the IRB (updated 03/20/2020)

NKU Reseachers,

Given the rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and Northern Kentucky University’s focus on the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, and the community, the Vice Provost’s Office of Graduate Education, Research and Outreach and the Office of Research, Grants and Contracts is revising standards related to research involving human participants. Effective immediately and until further notice, research interactions with human research participants must be performed remotely (e.g., phone or other university-supported online tools such as Webex, Qualtrics, etc.), unless it is approved by the IRB Chair under one of two conditions (Exception for Essential Research Visits):

Condition 1: The research procedure(s) is essential to ensure participant health, safety,
or wellbeing (see the Exception for Essential Research Visits described below).

Condition 2: Graduate students who must continue their research to graduate in the
spring (see the Exception for Essential Research Visits described below)..

Exception for Essential Research Visits

Please note: the need for face-to-face research visits is extremely unlikely given the NKU research portfolio.

Face-to-face essential research visits must adhere to current guidelines to reduce exposure for study participants and research staff. To request an exception for essential research visit, researchers must:

1. R​​​​​​​equest permission from the IRB Chair ( to proceed with in-person research procedures.
2. Remotely screen all participants just prior to an in-person visit for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus or symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Questions to ask are posted below. Research participants with possible exposure or symptoms may not participate in face-to-face interactions until after the time recommended by current public health guidance. This screening does not require prior NKU IRB approval.
3. Ensure every day that all research staff who interact with participants are symptom-free and have not been exposed to COVID-19.
4. Stay aware of and abide by all applicable recommendations, policies, and actions of federal and state public health authorities, Northern Kentucky University, non-NKU facilities where research is conducted, etc.

Potential Screening Questions

- Have you or any member of your immediate family traveled outside the US within
the last 14 days? If yes, where?

- Have you or members of your household been diagnosed with COVID-19 (caused by
the Coronavirus) or asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to the

- Are you or any member of your immediate family experiencing flu-like symptoms?

Please do not hesitate to contact the IRB Administrator ( or the IRB Chair ( with any questions or concerns.

 Thank you for your understanding.

 Anita R. Southwick (IRB Administrator) and Andrea Lambert South (IRB Chair)

What Does the IRB Review? 

Common types of research reviewed by the IRB:

  • Faculty research involving human subjects, including but not limited to surveys, interviews, focus groups, and experimental research .
  • Classroom projects, undergraduate senior theses, and capstone projects that meet the federal definition of research.
  • Doctoral dissertations and Master’s theses that meet the federal definition of research.
  • Grant-funded research that includes requirements for IRB approval and involves human subjects.