The term “student research” can refer to either research conducted by students or to students involved as subjects in research. Both topics are covered below.
Students as Researchers
Any research conducted by students, including undergraduates, that meets the following criteria must be reviewed and approved by the IRB before the research study can begin:
- Projects that meet the definition of "research" (see Definition of Terms)
- Research that uses human beings as subjects or data from human beings
This includes dissertations, theses, graduate student projects, professional papers, or honors theses, if the goal of the research study is to contribute to generalizable knowledge.
All student research projects must be under the direction of a faculty advisor who has completed CITI certification and who is listed as the principal investigator (PI) on the study. Students must also complete CITI certification.
Students may not serve as PIs. (See UNLV's Principal Investigator Eligibility Policy.) They must have a faculty advisor who fulfills the PI eligibility criteria and who will serve as PI and faculty advisor on the study. All correspondence will be sent via email to the PI, and students will be copied. Please ensure that all email addresses are correct for delivery of correspondence from Office of Research Integrity – Human Subjects.
It is the responsibility of faculty advisors to assist students in preparing the protocol application for review by the IRB and to ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with UNLV’s Human Subjects Policy and with the federal government regulations.
Graduate students proposing new unaffiliated projects should apply for IRB review. Unaffiliated projects are those that are not a part of a principal investigator’s larger similar project.
If a student is a current research team member on their advisor’s IRB-approved protocol and the student would like to address a different research question using some of the data or human participants from the original project for their own thesis or dissertation, the graduate student may submit a modification form to include this information.
If additional information is needed, please call the Office of Research Integrity – Human Subjects at 702-895-2794.
Students as Research Subjects
An underlying principle of the regulations governing use of human subjects in research is that the subject’s participation is voluntary, based upon full and accurate information. The relationship of instructor and student is inherently of unequal power. No matter how well intentioned the instructor is, students may feel compelled to participate, believing that failure to do so will negatively affect their grades and the attitude of the instructor (and perhaps other students) toward them.
Thoughtful development of a protocol that balances the competing interests of subject protection and valuable research may appear challenging, but it is doable. If instructors have questions about a particular methodology, they should consult the ORI-HS staff or the IRB. Additional information on this subject is available under Special Topics.