Institutional Review Board (IRB)

What is the IRB?

The IRB is the administrative body that oversees the conduct of research involving human subjects at SUNY Old Westbury. We promote, facilitate, and approve research with human subjects. The committee approves the start, renewal, and periodic review of research conducted by the stakeholders of SUNY Old Westbury (faculty, students, staff).   IRBs have the authority to approve or require modifications in research activities that fall within their jurisdictions as specified by federal and state regulations and local institutional policy.

What counts as research that the IRB oversees?

The department of Health and Human Services  define the term “research” at 45 CFR 46.102(l) as follows:

Research means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities that meet this definition constitute research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program that is considered research for other purposes.

What counts as a "human subject?"

According to HHS CFR 46.101:

"Human subject" means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information.

Note that many fields may consider the terminology of "subject" as outdated, but this is the official terminology for regulatory purposes for now.

Does my research need IRB approval?

There are several considerations for if your project needs IRB approval. The primary consideration for whether you need IRB approval for your project is whether the data you are will collect are intended to answer a question that is applicable outside of SUNY OW. Additionally, only data that are IRB approved can be published in public forums. Public forums include events held at SUNY OW. Below are additional, but not all, considerations. When in doubt, please reach out to a member of the committee to address your questions.

The following examples do not need IRB approval:

  • Class projects where data are only presented in class. Data collected for class projects without IRB approval cannot be presented in any forum or medium besides the class for which they were collected.
  • Program evaluations for which the data will only be evaluated or seen by members of a program, department, or other on-campus interest
  • Research involving already-collected, de-identified data (public or shared). For example, most review papers, meta-analyses, or archived data from a database.

The following examples do need IRB approval:

  • Any data where identifiable, or potentially identifiable information is being collected
  • Any data being collected with the intention of publication or presentation to individuals beyond those involved in research. These, by definition, are generalizable knowledge. These types of data include: opinion or attitude surveys, educational tests or assessments, behavioral data, biological specimens (of humans) focus groups, behavioral observation with or without participants' awareness.
  • Review of medical records that are not de-identified

More information regarding IRB policies and important dates can be found in the menus to the left of this page.

Applications for IRB review should be submitted to


Erik Benau

Assistant Professor, Cognitive Psychology
School of Arts and Sciences
New Academic Building