By Kirsten Raper, Chattanooga, Tenn. —

The Institutional Review Board, which ensures the ethical and safe treatment of research subjects, started using three new checklists to define the elements that are required to gain the approval for faculty and students to use human subjects in research.

“Human subject participation is vital in many different research fields, including biomedical research and social behavioral research,” said Alexa McClellan, assistant director of research integrity. “Subjects are recruited by investigators depending on their research aims. Participation can range from something as simple as taking a survey to something as involved as participating in a medical trial of a new drug.”

The Pre-review checklist, Reviewer checklist and the Informed Reviewer checklist each help student and faculty investigators know ahead of time what the IRB is looking for, which can help them create stronger applications. The IRB committee also benefits by becoming more consistent and effective in their reviews, which can increase transparency and allow applications to be approved at a faster rate.  

The Pre-review checklist is used when an application is first submitted.  Once the application has been submitted, the Office of Research of Integrity looks over it to make sure all areas are completely filled in with the appropriate information. The application is then forwarded to the IRB.

The Reviewer checklist is used by the IRB members when they review the application. It lists everything that the reviewers look at when they decided whether or not the human subjects are properly protected.

The IRB’s page on the University’s website says that the review process can take anywhere from three days to five weeks depending on when the IRB received the application, the type of review and the application’s quality.

The Informed Consent Checklist is used when looking at consent documents. It makes sure that all subjects are completely informed before they decide whether or not to participate in the research. The IRB’s webpage says, “[Informed Consent] ensures respect for people by providing the opportunity for thoughtful consent to ensure that participation is voluntary.”

For more information on the IRB process of approval to use human subjects in research, visit For questions about if IRB approval is necessary contact or AlexaMcClellan at