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Pima County Community College District Standard Practice Guide

SPG Title:    Human Subjects Review
SPG Number: 
SPG-5603/AA
Effective Date:   7/1/03
Approval Date:   7/1/03
Review Date(s):  
Revision Date(s):  
Sponsoring Unit/Department: VC for Academic Affairs and Student Development
Regulation Title & No.:  Human Subjects Review, RG-5603/A
Board Policy Title & No.: Research Involving Human Subjects, BP-5603
Legal Reference:   Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Cross Reference:   BP-1504, BP-5601, BP-5602


I.   Purpose

The purpose of this Standard Practice Guide is to implement the Regulation on, and establish the procedure for, human subjects review.  The intent is to minimize the possibility that harm will come to College students, employees, or the College itself as a consequence of their participation as subjects in research or evaluation projects, as well as harm to any persons who are the subjects of research or evaluation projects conducted by College employees or students.

II.  Components of the College's System for Human Subjects Review.

1. Appointment of Members of the Human Subjects Review Committee (HSRC).

At the beginning of each academic year, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Planning will request nominations for a representative from the following groups to serve on the committee:

  • Inter-Campus Student Coordinating Committee
  • Faculty Senate
  • Staff Council
  • Joint Deans
  • Community members with specific expertise in Human Subjects issues

Each appointed member will receive a copy of Policies and Procedures for Research Projects with Human Subjects.  The committee will meet on an as-needed basis as determined by the Director of Institutional Research, who shall serve as chair of the committee.

2. A copy of Policies and Procedures for Research Projects with Human Subjects will be posted on the Research and Planning home page of the College web site.

3. A Primer on Human Subjects for orienting and training College faculty on the Human Subjects Review process will be posted on the Research and Planning home page of the College web site.  The Primer will also be included in the Academy for new faculty members, and in the Adjunct Faculty Handbook.  The Primer addresses issues of potential harm (physical, psychological, social, or other), informed consent, voluntary participation, and confidentiality/anonymity.

4. At the beginning of each academic year, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Planning will brief the Joint Deans on the Human Subjects Regulation and its Standard Practice Guide.

5. Division Deans of Instruction shall be responsible for ensuring that their division faculty and adjunct faculty receive orientation in Human Subjects issues, the College Human Subjects process, and provisions for exemptions to the process.

III.   The Review Procedure

1. Submission of Application for Human Subjects Review.

Unless exempt under Section V below, all research described in Section I of RG-5603/A, Human Subjects Review, will be subject to the College review process.

The project proposer will submit a completed "Pima Community College Application to Conduct Research with Human Subjects" (see Policies and Procedures for Research Projects with Human Subjects), including a complete project proposal, a curriculum vitae or biographical sketch, and any supporting materials (copies of data collection instruments, such as a survey questionnaire, interview guide, or observation protocol; informed consent form) to the Director of Institutional Research.

2. Determination of Proposed Project's Risk Level/Review Process.

The Director of Institutional Research reviews the application and determines the risk level of projects submitted for human subjects review.

A. Projects deemed to adequately address criteria of informed consent, voluntary participation, and confidentiality, and which pose minimal risk to human subjects and have sound research design will be approved by the Director of Institutional Research.  He or she will then convey the approval to either-

  • The Campus Dean of Instruction for research conducted at a single campus, or
  • The Chancellor's Cabinet for research to be conducted district-wide

for their consent for the proposed research to proceed.  (Projects which have been cleared for Human Subjects issues might be denied by the campus or the college district because of timing, logistics, or other issues.  It will be the responsibility of the researcher to obtain this additional clearance.)

B. Projects deemed by the Director of Institutional Research to have moderate or substantial risk to Human Subjects will be reviewed by the Human Subjects Review Committee.  For projects approved by the HSRC, the Director of Institutional Research will notify, as appropriate, either the campus Dean of Instruction or the Chancellor's Cabinet for their acceptance or rejection of the proposed project.

3.  Notification of the Results of the Review.

The Director of Institutional Research will inform the researcher in writing of the results of the Human Subjects review.

IV. Campus or District Approvals

All projects approved by Human Subjects review must obtain additional clearance by either the campus Dean of Instruction (for single campus projects) or the Chancellor's Cabinet (for multi-campus or district-wide projects).  This review level will take into consideration the timing of the research, likely cooperation of faculty or staff, logistics and potential inconvenience, costs, or other issues.  It will be the responsibility of the researcher to obtain this additional clearance.  The decisions of these authorizing parties will be final.

V.  Appeals

Proposers of research projects which have been denied Human Subjects approval by either the Director of Institutional Research or the Human Subjects Review Committee may appeal the decision to the Chancellor's Cabinet.  (Note: If a proposal seeks federal funding, or is otherwise subject to the Federal Regulation, a denial of approval is not appealable.)  The researcher submits an "Appeal of Decision Request Form" to the Director of Institutional Research who, in turn, will submit the appeal to the Cabinet.  The decision of the Chancellor's Cabinet, which shall be final, will be conveyed to the researcher by the Director of Institutional Research.

VI. Exemptions

In accordance with the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, the following kinds of research are exempt from the College Human Subjects review process:

  1. Classroom research conducted by the course instructor or by students under the supervision of the course instructor.
  2. Research conducted by the College on the effectiveness of educational strategies.
  3. Student academic assessments conducted by the College or course instructors.

The collection and analysis of existing ("secondary") data which do not contain individually identifiable information.  Secondary data include, for example, College data on enrollments or aggregated student assessment results.

The Director of Institutional Research will receive prior notification of any research conducted for the College under contract with outside organizations.  It shall be the responsibility of the College's contract representative to make this notification.