Research Involving Human Subjects

Does your project require IRB review?

The US Department of Health & Human Services has developed a series of decision charts to assist Principal Investigators in determining the applicability of Human Subjects regulations to their research. Please access the decision charts to determine if these regulations apply to your research.

Investigators intending to conduct research involving human subjects should carefully review Sonoma State University’s Policy on the “Human Subjects in Research.” For general questions on the review process, call, 664-2066 or email Application materials can be downloaded from ORSP's forms page. It is the responsibility of the individual investigator to ensure that appropriate ethical principles are adhered to in the conduct of research involving human subjects.

Download SSU's brochure: Working with Human Subjects in Research (pdf)

SSU Policy Highlights:

There is human subject involvement when human beings are asked to participate:

  • Physically in an activity or to donate their tissue, organs, fluids, and other bodily material.
  • When information is sought from them directly (as through interview, questionnaire) or indirectly (as through observation).
  • When information concerning specific, individually identifiable human beings is asked for from third parties—whether through access to files, data banks, or other means—or through direct inquiry of third parties concerning the individuals in question.
  • Research proposals for which the question of human subject involvement is itself uncertain or ambiguous must be submitted for review.

The Provost has appointed the Institutional Review Board for the Rights of Human Subjects, which works under the sponsorship of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) to ensure the protection of the rights of human subjects and serves as the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for purposes of local, state, and federal requirements. The Interim Senior Director of ORSP serves as the University’s Institutional Signatory Official for purposes of federal regulation.

Federal Policy Guidance

Current IRB Membership
Name Department
Patrick Jackson (Chair) Criminology
Bülent Sökmen Kinesiology
Betty J. Durso Community Member
Vincent Richman Business Administration
Heather Smith Psychology
Michael Visser Economics
Mary Ellen Wilkosz Nursing


Researchers are required to submit a protocol describing their proposed research or activity involving human subjects. (Download the Human Subjects Application form from the ORSP Forms page.) Student non-collaborative research protocols must first be submitted to the faculty sponsor and to the department review committee, if one exists, for review and approval.