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Classroom Based Research Projects


Many courses in the OU curriculum include instruction on research design and research methods. Often the course instructor includes an experiential learning component in the course assignments. This message is designed to help you determine if the classroom-based research project will need to be reviewed and approved by the IRB.

There are four criteria for classroom-based research projects that do not normally require IRB approval:

  1. They are usually very limited in scope and sample size and are conducted for the purpose of learning the research process and applying this process by conducting a minimal risk research study as a requirement of a specific course.
  2. The classroom-based research projects will not result in generalizable knowledge that would be acceptable for scholarly presentation or publication.  [Explanatory note: Presenting results to a class or for a departmental/college/University research presentation event does not constitute public dissemination or contribution to generalizable knowledge.]
  3. The classroom-based research project asks participants for non-sensitive information.
  4. The research data are collected in a manner that assures the anonymity or confidentiality of the participants.

If your classroom-based research project assignment meets all four of these criteria, then no interaction with the IRB is required.

There are three types of research projects that have an elevated level of risk and do require IRB review to determine if they are Human Subjects Research. These include:

  1. Projects that include deception or that may elicit a strong emotional response from the participant and require referrals to mental health professional.
  2. Projects that include a physical testing procedure, such as blood draws or exposure to radiation.
  3. Projects that gather data from protected or vulnerable populations such as children, cognitively impaired persons, prisoners, the elderly.

Here are some suggestions for the course instructor supervision of projects that do not require IRB review:

  • In the past, many research methods instructors have found it useful for their students to complete the IRB documentation as part of their training within a classroom-based research project but the students DO NOT submit this information to the IRB. This process gives them experience that will be valuable when conducting their own undergraduate honors project, thesis or dissertation research. The IRB documentation can be accessed below, see links.
  • Do not use the electronic iRIS system for classroom projects.
  • The course instructor reviews all IRB documents for completeness and accuracy.
  • Require students to conduct their classroom research in the same ethical manner that applies to "regular" research - i.e., informed consent required, minimal risk, obtaining approval from the supporting site or organization, etc.
  • For all classroom activities, whether research-related or not, please remember to clearly identify these activities to potential participants on campus and within the community as  "classroom-based research projects".

We are here to help educate the research community. If you have any further questions, please contact the IRB office at (405) 325-8110 or

Consent forms used in Student Classroom Research not requiring review/approval by the IRB should not have any reference to the IRB.

Please make sure you are only using the following templates: