IRB Submission Help

Address for all IRB submissions: irb@sjsu.edu

Timelines and Review Types

Although the initial study application is the same for everybody, processing times vary by review type. The following timeline for approvals is only a guide. It may take more or less time, depending on the completeness of the application and the complexity of the research. The review type is determined by the IRB office and not by the research team.

Exclusion

Self-determination by Principal Investigator that submission of an IRB application is not needed. Use our Exclusion Decision Worksheet [pdf]to make this determination. No confirmation from the IRB Office is needed. 

Exempt Review 

IRB Office evaluates the submission and conducts an administrative review. Timeline: 1 week. See our table of exemption categories [pdf] to see what types of studies qualify.

Expedited Review

Individual IRB member conducts the review after screening by IRB analyst. Timeline: 1 month. See the expedited review categories established by the federal regulations to see what types of studies qualify.

Full Board Review

Convened IRB committee conducts the review. Timeline: 1-2 months.
The committee does not meet over the summer and winter sessions.
Any research that poses greater than minimal risk to participants must be reviewed by the full board.

Common Application Issues

  • Lack of Proofreading, Clarity, and Detail
    Researchers need to provide information in a way that is clear, detailed, thorough, and understandable to anyone who does not have prior knowledge of the research. Responses should be complete and contain grammatically correct sentences that fully answer the question. Responses should be focused on the question at hand. Providing extraneous information that does not answer a specific question does not enhance clarity.

  • Poorly Worded and Disorganized Consent Documents
    A consent document should contain easily understandable language (aim for a sixth grade reading level) that anyone can follow. Think about your audience and what they should know or would want to know when deciding if they want to participate in your study. For example, your consent document should not contain a literature review that was copied from your application. It should not contain acronyms, theoretical models, or technical jargon most participants will not understand. The consent document should be concise and provide relevant information that is presented in a comprehensible way to participants. The format should be clutter-free and easy to read.

  • Copying and Pasting from Past Submissions
    Do not copy and paste answers you may have seen elsewhere into your application. Oftentimes, researchers copy and paste material because they believe it is what the IRB wants to hear. There are no magic phrases that will result in IRB approval. Focus on addressing the specific questions in the application in your own (grammatically correct and proofread) words. Make sure that any templates you follow are tailored to your research. The IRB office does not provide copies or samples of previously approved submissions. There is no need to review someone else’s work in order to get IRB approval.

  • Lack of Consistency across Documents
    Ensure there is consistency throughout your project documents. IRB members read through all materials submitted to the IRB and often find inconsistencies between statements made in the application and other documents, such as the consent form.

Overall, the more time you invest in checking and proofreading your submission, the faster the review and approval process. Please do not expect the IRB analyst to assume this responsibility for you. Emails sent to the IRB analyst asking for a check of the materials prior to submission will not receive a response. The IRB analyst will screen your submission once it is submitted via email to irb@sjsu.edu