The majority of socio-behavioral studies will fall into expedited, exempt or not-human-subjects research categories. However, the IRB may also determine that a project is actually public health practice, educational practice, or other non-research activity. The IRB uses a very narrow definition of “research,” needing IRB review; oral history, ethnography, and some student projects, for example, may also fall outside this narrow definition. Determining whether a project needs IRB review is often a nuanced and challenging process.
Does not require IRB review if the project does not meet the definition of "research," i.e. the project is not designed to contribute to "generalizable knowledge." If the project is limited to documenting a certain time or experience in history, without attempting drawing conclusions about larger human phenomena or behavior, it likely does not require IRB review. These projects would have some commonality with journalism. If however the work is using a certain historical situation as an example of a type of event or situation that also occurred or is occuring elsewhere, then it may be exempt or non-exempt research that does need IRB review. Likewise if the work is intended to inform policy. The Emory IRB tries to work with the particular characteristics of oral history research, including the fact that projects often involve open-ended, conversational interviews for which specific quesitons cannot be submitted in advance to the IRB; also that identifiers often need to be retained, topics can be emotional in nature, and interviewees, when adequately informed about the nature of the project, can decide if their identificable responses may put them at risk in some way.
While projects in this field are often examinations of quite unique places and cultures, the work is usually done in order to gain knowledge about human behavior more generally, to generalize to a larger theory, to contribute to the academic field. While they may be exempt, they usually require at least an initial IRB submission.
Please see the "International Research" page via the naviagation bar on the left side of this page.
- "Does my project need IRB review?" - tool on this website for finding out if an IRB submission is needed
- IRB Review Categories
- Sociobehavioral Lay Summary
- Sociobehavioral Protocol Guidelines
- Study Site Permission, Permission to Use Data, and Cultural Context Guidance
- Sociobehavioral Consent Template
- Examples of Identifiers