Research Requests and Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Scope and Purpose

This procedure applies to all research that would (a) utilize Westchester Community College (WCC) students, faculty, staff, resources or data and (b) is not conducted directly by WCC for the primary purpose of internal decision-making and institutional effectiveness. This includes, but is not limited to, research being conducted by WCC students or interns, and undergraduate or graduate students at other institutions in the context of courses, theses, or dissertations, regardless of whether the researcher is employed by or otherwise associated with WCC.

This process ensures that research involving WCC data or stakeholders is conducted to the highest ethical standards and does not interfere with College operations.

Responsibilities

Approval to conduct research at WCC is a two-step process. Researchers must first receive approval from the Research Review Committee and then receive approval from the WCC Institutional Review Board (IRB).

The Research Review Committee is comprised of the Vice-President of Academic Affairs, the Vice-President of Student Affairs and the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning. This group has the responsibility for the dissemination and administration of this policy, communications with researchers, and review and approval/denial of research requests. The Research Review Committee will utilize other members of the College for additional expertise when necessary.

The purpose of the WCC Institutional Review Board is to ensure that the rights and welfare of human subjects are protected; risks have been considered and minimized; the potential for benefit has been identified and maximized; all human subjects only volunteer to participate in research after being provided with legally effective informed consent; and any research is conducted in an ethical manner and in compliance with established standards, including handling all private information with confidentiality.

Any WCC employee who receives an inquiry or request regarding the conduct of research as specified in the Scope and Purpose should forward the inquiry to the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning.

Requests to Conduct Research

  • Prior to recruiting participants or collecting data, any individual, group or agency desiring to conduct research at WCC, use College students, faculty, staff, or data in research, or recruit research participants by any means, including on WCC grounds or at WCC-sponsored events, must submit a written proposal. Applications for Biomedical research are NOT being considered by the College at this time.

The proposal must:

  • Detail the purpose of the study, methodology to be used (e.g., participants, sampling, data collection, analysis), timeframe for research activities, format for the presentation/publication of results and intended audience, space needs, data needs, risks to human subjects and expected outcomes/benefits of the study.
  • Include documentation of IRB approval or appropriate IRB exemption from the researcher’s sponsoring institution. If evidence of approval or exemption is not available, an explanation must be provided.
  • Include a copy of the WCC IRB Human Subjects Form.
  • Identify any resources expected to be provided by the College (e.g. meeting space, directory information).
  • Affirm the researcher’s acceptance of the Conditions of Approval below. If the researcher has previously contacted the SUNY System about research at multiple colleges, and if the research involves any form of data collection directly from WCC faculty, staff, or students, requests for approval must be submitted to, and approved by, WCC before WCC faculty, staff, or students can be recruited for the research.

Conditions of Approval

  • Institutional Research and Planning activities of the College have priority over all research requests. Any proposed research, including recruitment of participants by any means or data collection in any form that would coincide with these activities, or would directly or indirectly interfere with the College’s ability to effectively carry out operations, may be denied approval.
  • Class time will not be used for any research activities unless participation in the research is both educationally valuable and a natural part of the course content. If use of class time is approved, the researcher must also secure the approval of the appropriate faculty member(s) before proceeding.
  • WCC will not provide to a researcher any identifiable student record data except Directory Information as allowed by FERPA and WCC policy.
  • WCC will not solicit participation on behalf of a researcher. This includes, but is not limited to, sending emails or other communications to college distribution lists or contacts for derived samples.
  • Using WCC’s social media accounts to recruit research participants is prohibited.
  • All research will be conducted to the highest ethical standards. WCC students, faculty, and staff participating in research must be fully informed as to the purpose of the research, risks and benefits, and what participation will entail; give their consent to participate; and be free to withdraw from the research at any time.
  • WCC, its students, faculty, and staff involved in research will not be identified when findings are presented or published.
  • The researcher agrees to inform WCC when the research is complete and to provide WCC a copy of the results of the study. 

Review of Proposals

  • As an institution of higher education, WCC supports academic inquiry and will strive to accommodate reasonable requests under the conditions specified above and in accordance with other applicable WCC policies.
  • The Research Review Committee will review all proposals and may circulate proposals to other members of the WCC community for comment.
  • The Research Review Committee will issue a letter to the researcher indicating approval or denial of the proposal.
  • If the proposal is approved, the Research Review Committee will submit the applicable materials to the WCC Institutional Review Board. It is the jurisdiction of the IRB to ensure the rights of human subjects are protected. The IRB will notify the researcher of their decision.
  • No research can be conducted on campus prior to approval from the Research Review Committee and the WCC Institutional Review Board.

Due Dates:

  • Requests for research to be conducted during the summer or fall terms must be received by the Research Review Committee by March 30th.
  • Requests for research to be conducted during the spring term must be received by October 30th.

To initiate the process, submit documents to IRB@SUNYWCC.EDU.