Exempt Research (Does Not Mean "No Review is Necessary")

Most SOTL research falls into the exempt category, which is reserved for research that offers minimal or no risk to participants.

It's important to note that the exempt review category does not mean that such research is exempt from all review.

Although proposals for exempt research need not be submitted for full board review, they do need to be submitted to the IRB Chair, who will decide if exempt status is appropriate or whether further review by the IRB is required.

Here is the kind of research that is exempt from full review (details can be found in section V of the Stonehill IRB document as well as in an excellent white paper published by the University of Wisconsin):

  • Exemption for Instructional Strategies in Educational Settings. Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings are exempt from full IRB review if they involve normal educational practices such as a) research on regular and special educational instructional strategies, or b) research on the effectiveness of, or the comparison among, instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods.
  • Exemption for Research Involving Educational Tests. Research involving the use of educational tests is exempted as long as the information is recorded in such a manner that participants cannot be identified either directly or through identifiers linked to them, and as long as any disclosure of the participants' responses would not reasonably place them at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to their financial standing, employability, or reputation.
  • Exemption for Survey or Interview Procedures. Research involving survey or interview procedures is exempted, with the same caveats as those concerning research involving educational tests. Note, though, that surveys or interviews on sensitive or personal topics which may cause stress to study participants are not exempt from IRB review.
  • Exemption for Research Involving Observation of Public Behavior. Research involving observation is exempted, with the same caveats as those concerning educational tests and interviewing.
  • Research for Collection or Study of Existing Data. Research involving the collection or study of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens is exempted, if these sources are publicly available or if the information is recorded by the investigator in such a manner that participants cannot be identified directly or through identifiers linked to them.

If you have a question as to whether your SOTL project would fit into this category, contact Bonnie Troupe or Tom Gariepy.