Working with Human Subjects

Students conducting independent research that involves human subjects must follow Northwestern’s Institutional Review Board Procedures.

If you are conducting research with human subjects, there are a number of important questions that need to be asked and answered about how you will protect the rights and identities of your research informants and insure that your project "does no harm."

  • Your first step in thinking through these issues should be to talk to your adviser about your project. You will need to decide on the purpose/goals of your project, the population you will be studying, the methods you will use for conducting your research, the potential risks or benefits of your research for your informants, ways you will explain your project to informants, and how you can insure that the information you collect will be confidential.
  • You will also need to think about whether or not you want to have the option of publishing or presenting your thesis work outside of Northwestern as generalizable knowledge.

Discuss all of these issues with your faculty adviser and review material about IRB procedures on the Undergraduate Research Grants website.