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Institutional Review Board (IRB): FAQs

Contact the IRB

email icon Email us at and CC your dissertation chair

 Visit the IRB Office Hours page

I'm not yet in 9903 and would like to begin working with the IRB. Is this ok?

Yes! Absolutely! We recommend getting started on the IRB application as you work on chapter 3. It can be helpful to guide you as you as set up your study plan.

How can I be inclusive of gender in my data collection?

Gender is not recognized as binary. All documents involved in research that ask for gender must provide inclusive options. Consider the example below:

Gender: Please select your response from the options below.
  • Woman
  • Man
  • Gender Queer/Non-binary
  • I prefer not to answer
  • (open) I prefer to self-describe

​Do you identify as transgender?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I prefer not to answer


The following resources can assist with inclusive and sensitive design of demographic and other gender-related questions:

I’m thinking about offering compensation or incentives for my participants. How much would you suggest?

Incentives are really important for getting participants right now. We recommend that you start saving money as soon as you can, so when you get to the IRB process, you have a little stash that you can give to participants as an incentive.

The amount of the incentive depends on the group; for example, a nursing supervisor may require a larger incentive for participation than a frontline restaurant worker. In addition, the more time or activities that you will ask of your participants, the larger your incentive may need to be. If you want interview participants for an hour and then you want them to be in a focus group for another hour, the incentive would have to be pretty appealing. In the IRB, we are seeing incentives between $35–$50 per hour for some groups, and participation is still low. Folks are worn out and just do not want to spend another hour on Zoom. Please consider all of this as you are setting up your study.

I have multiple populations in my study. How do I make this clear in my IRB application and study materials?

f you will be recruiting participants from multiple populations (such as students and teachers) must make this clear throughout your application. You will need to clarify this within your eligibility criteria and research activities specifically.

For your eligibility criteria, you should use sub-headings to clearly label each group and then list the eligibility criteria for each group. For example, if you were recruiting both community college students and community college instructors, your eligibility criteria would look something like this:

Community College Student

  1. Are age 18 or older
  2. Completed the first-year composition course at Central Community College within the past 3 years

Community College Instructor

  1. Teach first-year composition at Central Community College

If your multiple participant populations will also be doing different research activities, you would use the same sub-heading to label each group and then list the research activities for each group:

Community College Student

  1. Complete online survey for 20 minutes

Community College Instructor

  1. Participate in online interview over Zoom for 30 minutes

If your multiple participant groups are all doing the exact same research activities, then you would not need to use sub-headings when listing your research activities.

Before submitting to the IRB, make sure that this information is aligned across your recruitment materials, consent letter, and IRB application.

Should I name an organization/company in my IRB materials if they don’t want to be named in my findings?

Yes. If you are recruiting individuals who work at a specific company or organization, then you must name that company or organization in your IRB application. Your IRB reviewer will need to fully understand who/where you are recruiting in order to review your application. Specifically, you will name this company/organization in your eligibility criteria and in your description of how/where you plan to recruit participants.

While you will name the company/organization in your IRB materials, you can still omit their name when writing up your study findings in your dissertation.

I have IRB approval, and I’ve been unable to recruit enough participants for my study. What do I do?

You should work with your dissertation chair and consider modifying your study. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is your eligibility criteria too narrow? In other words, are there not enough people who qualify to be in your study in the first place? Think about any details you could remove from your eligibility criteria to help increase your participant pool.
  • How much time or energy are you asking of your participants? During COVID-19, people are more stressed and have less free time. If you are asking for a lot of time or energy from participants, think about reducing or changing your research activities.
  • Are you asking participants to answer personal questions, such as demographic information about their age, race, gender, etc.? If so, consider removing those questions or moving those questions to the end.
  • Are you offering an incentive for participating, such as a gift card? Incentives can help to attract participants who are limited on time. Offering incentives also costs less money in the long run than paying for additional dissertation courses.

If you decide to modify your study, you will submit a modification application in IRBManager and wait to receive IRB approval before implementing these changes.

Which IRB documents should I include in the appendices of my dissertation?

The only IRB document you should include in your dissertation appendices is your IRB approval letter or determination letter. Other IRB-related documents, such as consent letters, recruitment documents, site permissions, or confidentiality agreements, should not be included in your published dissertation manuscript. These documents could reveal the identity of your participants via deductive disclosure.

You can learn more about deductive disclosure in this IRB deductive disclosure webinar.