IRB Guidance for Faculty Sponsors of Student Research


Importance of Faculty Sponsors for Student Research

Faculty sponsors hold an important role in guiding students who are planning or are in the process of submitting IRB applications. They are often actively involved in the student’s research from protocol design to data analysis and report preparation. Faculty sponsors should provide recommendations about research design aimed at reducing the risk to human subjects, while also serving as a point of contact for human subject concerns and questions.

Students should be in frequent communication with their faculty sponsor during all stages of protocol development and submission. Faculty sponsors are the best first point of contact for questions regarding ethical conduct, research design, review categories, and IRB procedures. When in doubt, students should first seek their faculty sponsor’s advice. Faculty sponsors should make sure they are available to answer students’ questions before the student brings the questions to the IRB.

Roles & Responsibilities of a Faculty Sponsor

NYU relies on faculty sponsors to guide students to develop and conduct their research studies, including overseeing their applications to the IRB.
A faculty sponsor guides a student by:

  1. Evaluating whether the student investigator has sufficient knowledge and experience to conduct the proposed research, including the completion of required online human subjects protection training (CITI), and any other relevant and protocol-specific research-related training.
  2. Developing ways to ensure the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in the study are protected and assisting the student to conduct ethical research.
  3. Reviewing the soundness of the research design of the student research protocol prior to IRB submission.

Faculty sponsors typically:

  1. Check the protocol for clarity and ease of understanding prior to IRB submission.
  2. Verify sound research design for the relevant field of research.
  3. Ensure that the student’s project meets criteria for degree satisfaction.
  4. Confirm adherence to field-specific codes of conduct.
  5. Remain informed of NYU’s policies and procedures, the published guidelines for the ethical conduct of research relevant to the field of inquiry, and state and federal regulations.
  6. Offer the student guidance on the protection of human subjects, as necessary.
  7. Inform students not to begin research (including subject recruitment) until final written approval from the IRB has been obtained.
  8. Provide ongoing supervision of the submission and conduct of the study, including advising the student on clarifications and changes requested by the IRB, monitoring the progress of the project, and ensuring continued adherence to the protocol and regulatory requirements (e.g., timely submission of unanticipated problems, reporting issues of noncompliance, using approved documents and tools, and avoiding over-enrollment of research participants).
Please see our Guidance for Faculty Sponsors for a detailed description of expectations for faculty sponsors.