Humans Subjects Research - Institutional Review Board (IRB)


SJSU Researchers: Getting Started

  1. Do I Need IRB Approval? Fill out the exclusion worksheet [pdf] to determine whether your work needs to be submitted to the IRB Office for review. This involves determining whether the work meets the federal definitions for "research" and "human subjects." If, after using this worksheet, you determine that your work does not need to be submitted for review, please keep the worksheet for your records. This worksheet does not need to be submitted to our office and you do not need confirmation from our office to proceed with work that is excluded. IRB office staff will not confirm your decision.

  2. View the information on our help pages to better understand the IRB process.

  3. Visit our forms and documents page to understand the types of documents you will need to prepare.

  4. Make sure you have completed a preliminary training course if you are a faculty or staff member submitting your own application or supervising student research. The training is also recommended but not mandatory for students. Refresher training courses are currently required every five years.

Submitting Documents for a New Study

Researchers may not begin ANY recruitment or data collection until a formal approval letter for the activity has been received. If data are collected prior to receiving approval, you may not use that data in your research. The IRB does not retroactively issue approval, including for research that qualifies for exemption.

  1. When submitting a new application refer to the IRB checklist [pdf] for a summary of required documents, and fill out the required forms. Be sure to access forms directly from our website for each new submission, as we may update them periodically.

  2. If you’re a student submitting a new study, you will need a faculty supervisor to review the submission and provide a signature on an assurance form [pdf]. Faculty and staff submitting their own applications must also sign the assurance form.

  3. The application and accompanying documents should be submitted to Please do not submit your application to individual office staff. All submissions must go to

  4. Await a screening email from the Human Protections Analyst confirming that your submission was received and containing information about how it will be reviewed (allow 3-5 business days).

  5. Once your submission has been reviewed, further instructions will be emailed to you by the Human Protections Analyst. Depending on the nature of the revisions, you may be asked to submit a new application or only the revised documents. If you are a student and only have minor revisions to submit, your professor’s signature is not required.

  6. Once you have obtained IRB approval, follow the instructions below for reporting modifications and problems.

Post-Approval Guidance


To report changes to your research methods and procedures, design, data instruments, personnel, type or number of subjects, consent process, or location, please fill out the Modification Request Form [docx] and email it to, along with any accompanying documents that have changed. 

Annual Status Reports

If your application was approved under an exempt or expedited IRB review category, as indicated on your approval notification, you must file an
annual status report [pdf] with the IRB so that we may keep track of active research. The form should be emailed to No review is associated with submission of this form. However, failure to provide this form annually may result in closure and deletion of your IRB file after a period of three years from initial approval if we do not hear from you.


Federal regulations no longer require IRBs to conduct a continuing review of research that was approved under the exempt or expedited review process. Renewal requests need only be submitted for studies that were reviewed by the full/convened IRB or under special circumstances, as noted in the study approval letter. Researchers whose applications were evaluated by full review should contact us to obtain a renewal form at least one month prior to the expiration date indicated on their approval notification.

Reporting Unanticipated Problems, Adverse Events, or Injuries

Primary Investigators must file an incident report [docx] within 7 calendar days upon discovery of an unanticipated problem, adverse event, or injury affecting human subjects. This form should be emailed to

Registering External IRB Approvals

SJSU researchers with an external IRB approval, as well as external researchers with IRB approval should visit our collaborative and external studies page for details on how to register their IRB approvals with the SJSU IRB Office.