IRB-Human Subjects Research

IRB-Human Subjects Research

The below information and additional details on human subjects research is available from the NS advising website.

If you are interviewing people or administering surveys to them (by phone, mail, email, or in person), you may be doing research on human subjects as part of your MP. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my research/survey asking only questions such as “How many birds did you see?” If yes, then this is NOT research on human subjects and certification and exemption are not required.
  2. Is my research/survey asking questions about your respondent’s attitudes, opinions, preferences, behavior, characteristics (e.g., “How often do you visit the Duke Forest?” or “Would you pay a fee in order to preserve this wetland?” or “What conservation organizations do you belong to?”)? If yes, then this IS considered research on human subjects and certification and protocol review is required as per the following information.


If you are going to do human subjects research, both you and your MP adviser must be “certified” for research on human subjects and you must obtain approval of your research protocol from the Duke Institutional Review Board (IRB) before you begin any human subject recruitment or data collection from human subjects. Forms for requesting approval of research protocols are available here. You and your adviser can become certified by completing the online certification process from the CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) website (choose the “Duke University-Non-medical Research” modules). You must complete the module “History and Ethics.”

Approval of Research Protocol

The forms for requesting approval of research protocols can be found here. Most, but not all, NS research on human subjects qualifies for exemption, but you must file the appropriate request for screening for exemption and receive approval of that request for exemption before you begin collecting data. Examples of DEL-submitted research protocol review forms are available here.