Guidelines for Questionnaires and Surveys
IRB Guidelines for Surveys and Questionnaires
Surveys, questionnaires, interviews, oral histories, and observation of public behavior conducted for research purposes must be reviewed by the IRB. In general, the research activities of this type generally qualify for exemption or expedited review. However, where a risk of harm may exist from the disclosure of sensitive information, full board review may be required.
Activities that Do Not Require Review
Examples of activities that do not require IRB review include:
Internal or external surveys, interviews, or focus groups (when they do not involve research and the results will not lead to generalizable scientific knowledge).
Activities that Qualify for Exemption
Activities that qualify for exemption include: (special conditions apply when vulnerable subjects are involved)
Research involving survey or interview procedures, observation of public behavior, and educational testing (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), unless:
- Information obtained is recorded in such a manner that human subjects can be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects (video tape/notes, etc.); and,
- Any disclosure of the human subjects' responses outside the research could reasonably place the subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subjects' financial standing, employability, or reputation.
Activities that Require Full Committee Review
Examples of activities that require standard review by the university IRB include:
- Any research involving vulnerable subjects.
- Audio or video taped data or recorded data that, if revealed, could prove embarrassing or harmful to subjects.
- Use of demographic or other private data that, if revealed, could cause harm or embarrassment to a subject.
- Surveys that include questions about illegal activities or highly personal aspects of the subjects' behavior, life experiences, or attitudes, or concern chemical substance abuse, sexual activity or attitudes, sexual abuse, criminal behavior, sensitive demographic data, detailed health history or other data that may be painful or embarrassing to reveal, such as sexual orientation or behavior, death of a family member or memories of abuse.
- Surveys or interviews where sensitive information such as personal aspects of a subject's behavior, life experiences or attitudes has the potential to preclude a negative emotional reaction and/or seriously disturb or embarrass the subject.
- Surveys, interviews or observation involving vulnerable subjects such as children or surveys or interviews involving the exploration of sensitive information with mentally disabled persons.
- Educational research where subjects can be identified directly or through identifying links and disclosure may place them at risk or prove embarrassing.
- Observation of children when the investigator participates in or influences the observed activities.
- Observation involving sensitive aspects of a subjects' behavior or in settings where subjects have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
10. Observation of public behavior when an investigator participates in or influences the observed activities.
11. Observation of employees or workers in the conduct of their normal work performance if the results of their involvement in the research were revealed and could prove embarrassing or harmful (employability).
12. Deception where an investigator does not disclose the true purpose of the research and/or the results of a subject's participation.
13. Whenever the potential for coercion or undue influence exists.
Guidelines for On-Line Questionnaires and Surveys Consent to Participate