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Research Ethics:
Research Ethics Review Process by IRB

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval Process


The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible for ensuring that all Walden University research complies with the university's ethical standards as well as U.S. federal regulations. The IRB’s ethics review and approval is required for all Walden-affiliated studies before participant recruitment, data collection, or dataset access. There are no exceptions. The ethics approval process is streamlined for studies involving existing data or minimal risks. Walden University will not grant credit for student work that was conducted without the IRB's ethics approval or otherwise failed to comply with IRB requirements. All student and staff researchers initiate the ethics review process by completing Form A (Description of Data Sources and Partner Sites) and then IRB staff will then provide a list of documents needed for that study’s particular data sources and partner organization(s). 




Student completes Form A to enable IRB to provide tailored guidance:  Form A (Description of Data Sources and Partner Sites) can be completed anytime after the chair confirms that the student has addressed both committee members' feedback on the methodology chapter. Form A allows students to obtain guidance on which forms and documentation will be needed for that study's particular data sources and partner organization(s). Based on the student’s Form A responses, a Research Ethics Support Specialist from the IRB office will email the student a list of documents and partner organization documentation specifically required for that study’s data sources. 


Student prepares documents that IRB requested in Step 1 and works out ethical issues: With support and guidance from the Research Ethics Support Specialist, the student will prepare the required documents. The IRB will then provide its Preliminary Ethics Feedback (PEF) service, sending written feedback until the materials meet the university’s ethical standards. The IRB’s goal is to help the student get ethical challenges and partner organization documentation worked out in advance to minimize the amount of correspondence and revisions needed during Step 4 (the IRB’s official ethics review of the finalized procedures, which can only occur after proposal approval).


Student and IRB close the loop after proposal approval: Shortly after proposal approval is documented in MyDR, the IRB reaches out to student and chair to confirm whether any aspect of the IRB materials (partner organizations, recruitment details, data collection steps, consent form) need updating as a result of changes made during the proposal defense phase.


The official ethics review occurs: Once the IRB receives either (a) the student’s updated documents or (b) confirmation that no changes were made, the IRB can approve the final set of study procedures and documents. Student may only commence recruitment and data collection once the student receives the IRB’s emailed confirmation to do so.


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