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Institutional Review Board

Our Mission

To ensure the physiological safety and well-being of any individual involved in a research project, any research at Colby-Sawyer College using people (including, but not limited to, surveys, questionnaires, observations, interviews, or experiments) requires written prior approval of the Institutional Review Board.

To ensure that animals are cared for humanely and safely, any College-sponsored research or classroom activity involving animals requires written prior approval from the Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculty.


At Colby-Sawyer College, proposals are submitted to the Institutional Review Board through the internal myIRB site on myColby-Sawyer. If you are an external researcher please contact the IRB Chair. If you are simply looking for information about the Institutional Review Board policies at Colby-Sawyer College, please view the Institutional Review Board Policies and Procedures.

General Research Guidelines

In general, IRBs seek to ensure a few basic things and these can be useful to think about with any survey:

Respect for Persons
  • autonomy
  • protection of individuals with reduced autonomy
  • maximize benefits and minimize harms
  • do good, not just avoid harm
  • equitable distribution (by race, class, gender, age, etc.) of research costs and benefits
Informed Consent
  • participants should understand what they are being asked to do
  • participants should understand the anticipated benefits and costs of participation (time, money, physical and emotional risk)
  • participant responses remain confidential
  • participants have the right to refuse to participate or withdraw at any time
  • participants are provided with contact information for the investigators/researchers and are given contact information for someone else at the institution if they have concerns about the investigators/researchers and/or the activity (usually IRB with research studies)

Research without Review

Certain research does not require review. The Institutional Review Board (IRB), not the investigator, certifies whether research qualifies as exempt. Please contact the Chair of IRB or a member of the IRB committee to discuss a research proposal that meets these criteria. In general, the following things are exempt from IRB review:

  • Normal educational practices (assignments and course evaluations);
  • Educational tests, surveys, interviews or observation of public behavior unless identified and sensitive (substance abuse, sexual behavior/attitudes);
  • Research using existing data and documents if publicly available and unidentifiable;
  • Taste and food quality evaluation and consumer acceptance studies;
  • Studies that do not fit the federal definition of research.
    • "A systematic investigation (including research development, testing and evaluation), designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge."

Please direct any questions to the IRB Chair at