Frequently Asked Questions

What is the IRB?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an administrative body that is charged with ensuring the rights of all human subjects participating in research projects are protected.


Do I need to submit my research to the IRB for approval? 

A research project must undergo a full review by the IRB if it qualifies as “research," and involves “human subjects." "Research" means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. "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.

Your research may be exempt from IRB review if it falls under one of the categories in Appendix 1 of the IRB Manual, which may be found on the "IRB Manual" link on the side bar of this page. You must apply for exemption. Your research may qualify for expedited IRB review if it falls under one of the categories in the list found in Appendix 2 of the IRB Manual. You must apply for expedited review. The proper forms to apply for an exemption or expedited review may be found on the "Forms" link on the side bar of this page.

If you are unsure if your research project requires a full review of research, or qualifies for exemption or expedited review, please consult the advising faculty member overseeing the research.

Can I begin my research and then apply for approval? 

No. Research must be approved by the IRB before any research begins.


My research qualifies as “exempt” or “expedited review.” Do I need to submit anything to the IRB?

Yes. You will need to submit the appropriate request form(s) according to the deadlines below. "Exempt" and "Expedited" reviews still require that the investigator provide enough information to fully review the research for risks to the participants, the investigator(s), and the university. The "Request For Research Review" form outlines the information needed in order to reach a decision. 


What criteria will the IRB use to decide if my research is approved or not? 

See Section 7 in the IRB Manual, which may be found on the "IRB Manual" link on the side bar of this page.


How do I submit my research to the IRB for approval? 

You need to submit the applicable forms to  according to the schedule below. Please note that all requests must have the signature of an advising faculty member. Also, be aware that you will be required to successfully complete the free online ethics training offered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at The training should take about an hour and a half. A certificate of completion will be provided, and must be submitted along with your submission to the IRB.

When do I need to submit my research to the IRB for approval? 

All forms and attachments must be submitted to two weeks prior to the IRB's monthly meeting. Any submissions that are not fully completed by the given due dates will not be considered at the next meeting.

For specific meeting dates, contact the IRB at the email address listed above or by calling the Office of Academics at 731-989-6438.

When should I expect to know if my research was approved? 

You will receive a written notification of the decision within one week after the meeting at which your research was reviewed.


Once my research is approved, am I done with the IRB?

No. Your research will need to be reviewed at least once a year if your research project lasts that long. Each year, you will need to apply for project continuation. Please see above for project continuation form.


What is informed consent and how can I be sure that I comply with its requirements? 

Human subjects may not be involved in research unless the researcher has obtained informed consent of the subject, unless special circumstances exist. This ensures that the subjects are aware of the risks they may be exposed to as part of the research study. Please see the IRB policy on informed consent in Section 7B of the IRB Manual.

As part of your research request, you will need to document your informed consent procedures. The Informed Consent Templates may be found on the "Forms" link on the side-bar of this page.

Who serves on the IRB? 

Mrs. Wendy Gean, Chair of IRB and Instructor in Biology

Dr. Aarek Farmer, Assistant Professor of Education 

Dr. Paul Helton, Associate Professor of Psychology

Dr. Lee Hibbett, Associate Professor of Marketing

Mr. Ben Reese, Physician Assistant, Main Street Family Medicine, Henderson, TN

Dr. Allan Sterbinsky, Coordinator of Research and Accountability for Jackson-Madison County School System and Mayor of Stanton, TN


What are my intellectual property rights regarding my research?

Please see FHU's policy regarding intellectual property. The text of this policy may be found on the "Forms" link on the side bar of this page.