Institutional Review Board

The PhilaU Institutional Review Board (IRB) ensures that human subject research at Philadelphia University conforms to high ethical standards and is in compliance with local, state and federal regulations. .

Any university or college in the United States conducting human subject research is mandated by the Federal Government to have an IRB. Without a functioning IRB, federal funding for research is unavailable.

Use the following links to see the University Policy and Federal Regulation documents, downloadable documents of the IRB Application and Application Renewal form, and find IRB frequently asked questions below.



Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is required to submit their research protocol for IRB review?
  2. What are the steps to get IRB approval?
  3. How long does IRB review take?
  4. What happens if a researcher does not submit their human subject research for IRB review?
  5. Who serves on the IRB?
  6. Where can I get the necessary forms for the IRB process?
  7. Where can I ask additional questions?

1. Who is required to submit their research protocol for IRB review? 

Any faculty member or graduate student using human subjects for questionnaires, interviews, and behavioral observation; or even having human subjects try on new textiles.

Submission is also necessary for staff, faculty members or students who are working in collaboration with researchers from another university.

Undergraduates do not have to have their research protocols reviewed by the IRB unless required to do so by their professors.


2. What are the steps to get IRB approval? 

  • Write the IRB and request a Research Proposal Form at irb@philau.edu
  • The IRB will send a form and give the Principal Investigator (PI) an IRB file number; i.e., PU15-1.
  • The PI will send in the completed IRB proposal form along with any research instruments (surveys, interview questions, etc.) to irb@philau.edu
  • The IRB may contact the PI and suggest modifications in their research design. The proposal then will have to be re-submitted.
  • The IRB chair may suggest that the proposal necessitates a full review by the entire IRB Board.
  • The protocol may receive fast-track expedited approval. Expedited approval means that the PI can commence their research immediately.
  • In due course, the IRB will send researchers official letters of approval.

3. How long does IRB review take? 

The approval process may take anywhere from one week to one month.

If PI's are working with any of the three federally identified vulnerable populations listed below, an IRB review might take longer:

  • prisoners
  • minors
  • pregnant women

If working in an institution with a vulnerable population or with senior citizens, a researcher needs a signed letter from director/principal on letterhead giving permission to conduct research at that facility.


4. What happens if a researcher does not submit their human subject research for an IRB review? 

  • The PI is in violation of Federal Regulations. In extreme cases, the IRB is required to report the violation to the Federal Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP).
  • The PI has contravened university regulations. In flagrant cases, the IRB will report the violation to the University Provost.
  • The PI may find it impossible to present their research at academic conferences or have their research published. Many organizations and presses now require proof of IRB approval of human subject research before that research can be disseminated outside the walls of a university.
  • The PI is in violation of Federal Regulations. In extreme cases, the IRB is required to report the violation to the Federal Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP).

5. Who serves on the IRB? 

Four Philadelphia University faculty members, one of whom serves as chair. Terms are for two years and service is voluntary. All members have to take an online course offered by the NIH on applied research ethics every two years. The IRB also includes a community member from outside the University.


6. Where can I get the necessary forms for the IRB process? 

The following forms can be electronically completed, printed and signed. Scanned copies can be sent for approval to irb@philau.edu. The Paul J. Gutman Library offers the use of several scanners.


7. Who can I contact with additional questions? 

Anyone who needs further information about IRB policies and practices should e-mail their inquiries to irb@philau.edu. The IRB chair always is available to meet with members of the University community to address their concerns about Human Subject Research Ethics and the IRB.