Thiel administrative staff often needs to do surveys, conduct interviews, or distribute questionnaires. Some of this data-gathering requires a formal IRB application, some does not. Usually the difference lies in how the information gathered will be used, i.e. whether it will be published and presented or simply used within the College.
Below are specific examples we help will guide you.
DOES Require IRB Application:
Genuine research initiated by Thiel administrators or staff members, using the federal definition of Research: a structured inquiry intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge.
- A survey of alumni/alumnae satisfaction with certain aspects of their Thiel experience, undertaken with an intention to present the findings at a national meeting of college administrators.
- Interviews with several dozen Thiel juniors and seniors about their experience with the college Writing Program, undertaken with the intention of publishing an article about the program.
Projects such as these are research with human subjects and do require IRB approval before they begin.
DOES NOT Require IRB Application:
Administrative data-gathering is not research if the information is used by the College but is not intended to contribute to any generalized knowledge, e.g. it will not be published outside the College or presented at a professional meeting.
Such is the case of studies planned and carried out on-campus with the intention of improving the delivery of educational or other services at the college.
- A survey of student use of the library to aid in library planning.
- Questionnaires about campus tours that the Admissions Office gives to campus visitors, where the purpose is to improve the quality of the tours.
- Questionnaires that the Library gives to entering students to gain information about students' past use of library research tools.
- Questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups that are part of the ongoing assessment of Thiel's implementation of its educational goals, including those involving alumni/alumnae of the college.
- A survey of alumni/alumnae conducted annually or from time to time by COFHE, the Colleges of Further & Higher Education when the knowledge gained is proprietary, kept within the consortium, and not intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge.
However, campus offices and investigators should avoid pressuring Thiel students or others to participate; they must make clear to their human subjects that the subjects are under no obligation or requirement to participate in the assessment activity, and that a subject may without penalty decline to answer any or all questions.
If a Thiel administrator or staff member decides later to use information gathered in a non-research context for a research activity such as a publication, then he or she should submit an application to the IRB before doing so.