Frequently Asked Questions

What Projects Do Not Require HSR Review?

Project review may not be required for:
Listed below are types of projects which do not normally require HSR review. Note that HSR may be concerned if members of special population groups (e.g., prisoners, children, incapacitated adults) are contacted during a project. Even though the project may not require HSR review, the researcher is expected to adhere to the ethical guidelines of the subject area.

1. JOURNALISM PROJECTS
Journalistic investigation, such as a project conducted with the intent to publish a newspaper article, is not reviewed by HSR. However, if the data collected during the project will be used in a thesis or essay or later published in a scholarly article, the project must be reviewed by the HSR prior to the start of the project.

2. CLASSROOM PROJECTS
In most cases, class projects involving human subjects are not intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge and therefore are not covered under the federal regulations. However, HSR approval should be obtained for class research projects if (1) data will be collected from a human subject (e.g., opinions, behaviors, feelings, personal information), regardless of the sensitivity of the data, and (2) the results of the classroom research project will contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., by publishing — including master’s theses; presenting outside the class; citing in another paper; poster presentations).

3. NON-HUMAN STUDIES
Projects in which the focus is a business, event, or topic do not normally need HSR review. For example, if you are interviewing bookstore managers to determine how many copies of the new Betsy Ross biography are displayed in the store window, HSR review is not required since data on human subjects is not collected. However, if you ask the managers how they feel about the American flag or what their salary or social security number is, the HSR will need to review the project since opinions or private data are being collected.
If you are researching the history of tree planting in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland and want to talk to landscapers on species, methods, and soil quality,HSR review is not necessary. If, however, you want respondents to describe any traumatizing accidents they have witnessed while planting trees, HSR review will be necessary since data on personal experiences will be collected.
If the project collects private data in a manner which may cause harm or loss of privacy to the subject, HSR should be consulted to minimize the risk to the individual.

4. DEPARTMENTAL (INTERNAL) RESEARCH
If you are conducting research for use by your department which will not be disseminated publicly, the project may not need HSR review. Focus group, interview, or survey research, for example, which will be used to collect information on campus for NCA accreditation, does not need to be reviewed by HSR. However, if data collected for accreditation will be published or shared with other universities, HSR would review the project.

Projects which collect data to evaluate and improve services are not normally reviewed by HSR. However, the data cannot be presented at a conference or referenced in a published article unless it is reviewed by HSR.

If the project collects private data in a manner which may cause harm or loss of privacy to the subject, the IRB should be consulted to minimize the risk to the individual.

5. ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS AND CASE STUDIES
Single subject studies will not result in generalizable knowledge are therefore do not fall under HSR jurisdiction.