The Protocol Review Process

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Protocol Review Process flow chart. A text-only version of this chart is available below.

Once your complete IRB Protocol is received, we will review your documents to determine the category of review which your protocol will undergo and conduct a pre-review for needed revisions.  We may request more information.

 

If the category is determined to be Exempt, no further review is needed and you will receive an Exemption notice in the form of an email from protocol@sfsu.edu. You may begin your research upon receiving the Exemption notice, but you must notify us of any changes in your study.  Please note that you and your faculty advisor are responsible for ensuring all documents are free of grammatical and typographical errors.

 

If the category is determined to be Expedited, we will work with you to prepare and revise your protocol for a designee of the IRB, which is currently the IRB Chair.  The IRB Chair will review the protocol and may request additional changes or approve the protocol.  Once approved, we will send an approval letter via email from protocol@sfsu.edu. You may begin your research upon receiving the approval letter, but you must notify us of any changes in your study and renew your project one year from the date of approval.

 

If the category is determined to be Full Committee (also known as non-Exempt), we will work with you to prepare and revise your protocol for the Institutional Review Board (IRB).  After a pre-review and requested revisions are addressed, the protocol is sent to the IRB members and reviewed at the next available IRB meeting. The IRB will issue a letter within 7-10 days after the meeting with their decision. The IRB may:

  1. Approve your protocol
  2. Defer your protocol because substantial changes are needed and changes must be reviewed by the IRB at a future meeting.
  3. Grant contingent approval - this means that you may not begin your research until you address a list of revisions as requested by the IRB. Once the contingencies (revisions) to your protocol are submitted and reviewed by the IRB Chair, we will send an approval letter from protocol@sfsu.edu. You may begin your research upon receiving the approval letter, but you must notify us of any changes in your study and renew your project one year from the date your protocol went to the IRB meeting.

 

Expected Review Turnaround Time

While the rate of the review process greatly depends on the queue of protocols preceding the researcher's submission and the researcher's promptness in responding to revision and clarification requests, approximate review time frames are as follows:

 

Exempt: 1-2 weeks
Expedited: 2-4 weeks
Non-Exempt (Full Committee): 4-8 weeks

 

During the fall and spring Graduate Studies deadline periods are as follows:
Exempt: 2-3 weeks
Expedited: 3-6 weeks
Non-Exempt (Full Committee): 4-8 weeks