Frequently Asked Questions

What is a research study?

A research study is a very careful way of looking at something and collecting data about what is being looked at. It can be something as simple as asking questions, giving a survey, or looking at a particular behavior. On the other hand, it can be more complicated and may look at a specific disease or condition.

What is a research subject?

A research subject is a person who decides to participate in a research study. This is completely voluntary. You are helping the researcher look at the questions he/she wants to study. You can quit participating in the study at any time you want.

What is an informed consent?

The details of how a study may involve you, will be given to you in a consent form. This is to help you understand exactly what will be expected of you if you decide to participate. Some of these details include:

  • Study Procedures: What will you be asked to do, and how long will it take?
  • Risks and Benefits: Do the benefits outweigh any potential risks for me?
  • Confidentiality: What measures will be used to secure your information, and how long do the researchers intend to use it?

The informed consent process is designed to help you make up your mind about participating, or not participating, in the study. The informed consent document will outline all the rights you have as a volunteer in a research study. Reading the consent form in advance is a helpful process because it gives you enough time to ask as many questions as you want to about your voluntary participation in the study, and even explore alternative activities you might consider in place of the study. After reading the consent form, you can make your final decision about participating in the proposed study. 

What is an IRB?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an independent committee made up of a group of scientists, non-scientists, and community members. To learn more about the members on the IRB at Utah State, view our current roster!

The IRB is responsible for evaluating every research study before it is allowed to involve any participants. Before approving a research project, the IRB conducts an ethical and regulatory review of the proposed research plan. Because some research studies involve risk, the IRB looks at the study to make sure the risks are justified and minimized as much as possible. In addition, the IRB wants to make sure the Principal Investigator follows all the rules the federal government has set up to protect human subjects who so kindly volunteer to participate in a research study.

Can anyone be in a research study?

Each study has a list of who can and cannot be included in any given study. This is written in the protocol and the informed consent document. In order to protect research subjects, only people who qualify (based on this list) can be in the study.

What is a PI?

The PI, or Principal Investigator, is the person who conducts the research study. The PI is also the person who is responsible for making sure everything is done properly. Along with the PI, there may be other people who help with the study. There may members of the study team who help talk to participants, look at all the data that is collected in the study, and generally help to carry out the study.

What is a protocol?

All research studies follow a protocol. A protocol is like a recipe in a cookbook. It tells the researcher what can and cannot be done when he/she is conducting the study. All of this is done to protect the research subject. This protocol is first reviewed by the Institutional Review Board before it is allowed to be put into action.

Other Questions?

Do you have a question, concern, or complaint about your involvement in a research study or your rights as a research participant? If so, please feel free to confidentially contact the IRB. You may call us at 435.797.1821 or email us