District Administrative Offices


These frequently asked questions (FAQ's) are not intended to answer every question that a researcher may have. They are culled from the numerous questions that are asked of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). If your question isn't answered here, please contact the IRB Office at (813) 253-7080.

What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that has been formally designated to provide oversight of research to ensure that subjects are treated ethically and humanely and that research is of the highest quality. Not all such committees are called by this name or acronym.

Does HCC have an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

 Yes. In 2008, President Gwendolyn Stephenson formally appointed the first Institutional Review Board at HCC.

Why does HCC have an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

Federal regulations require that research studies must be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board. HCC’s IRB was first constituted to assure compliance with research conducted as part of its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).1 Although research could be reviewed by an external IRB, such as that at USF, the College’s increasing participation in research involving human subjects reinforces the decision to maintain our own IRB. An internal IRB better serves the needs of the College community by providing quick turnaround and familiarity with HCC.

Who serves on HCC’s Institutional Review Board?

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations stipulates that an Institutional Review Board must be comprised of at least five members whose professional background and experience is in the field of research. At least one of the members must have no other affiliation with the College. The Director of Institutional Research serves as the Chairperson of the IRB. At least one full-time tenured faculty member is appointed to the IRB for a three-year term.

  A full description of the requirements stipulated in the Code of Federal Regulations is found in 45 CFR §46.107 IRB Membership: http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm#46.107

How do I know if I am conducting research that must be reviewed by HCC’s IRB?

Most of the educational activities in which HCC faculty are engaged do not fall within the federal definition of research as specified in 45 CFR 46.102(d): http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm#46.102

One way to start to answer this question is to determine the purpose of the activity in which you plan to engage. You can begin by asking yourself if the activity is process or product.  

·  Is the activity designed solely to instruct students in research methods (i.e. process)?

If the answer to this question is “no,” then the activity is probably not subject to IRB review.

  Approval by the IRB is not required for classroom assignments if:

1.       The activity is a class requirement that is clearly stated on the course syllabus;

2.       The activity only includes students who are enrolled in the course;

3.       The activity is conducted in the classroom or laboratory; and

4.       The activity poses no risk (either physical or psychological) to the students.


·    Is the activity designed to produce a result that adds to a body of generalizable knowledge (i.e. product)?

If the answer to this question is “yes,” then the activity needs to be reviewed, at least initially, by the Chairperson of the IRB. If the activity involves individuals under the age of 18, then a review by the full IRB is required by federal regulation.

Since HCC faculty are covered by union agreements, are HCC’s requirements for IRB review open for negotiation?

No. Federal regulations supersede any local or state contracts or agreements.


I completed IRB paperwork at another institution. May I now conduct research at HCC?

You may not begin any research at HCC prior to receiving official permission from the Hillsborough Community College IRB. 

I am not affiliated with Hillsborough Community College. May I conduct research at HCC?

HCC has an extensive variety of research that is ongoing throughout the year. Therefore, most requests by non-affiliated individuals are declined. Please contact the IRB Office at (813) 253-7080 if you believe that you may qualify for an exception.

I think that my research is exempt from IRB review. May I proceed with my study?

Only the IRB can make the determination if a research design is deemed exempt. You must submit IRB paperwork from your home institution if you are a graduate student; alternately, you must complete the Intial Application for IRB Approval found on the IRB Forms webpage.




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