Surveys Involving Human Subjects

Check to see if your work requires an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for research involving human subjects. A "human subject" is a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains:

  1. Data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or
  2. Identifiable private information

Researchers should follow their institutions’ protocols and apply for human subjects research approval with their institutions. Consult with your respective universities' Institutional Review Board (IRB) for instructions. IRBs have procedures in place for the protection of human subjects in cases where a survey would put a human subject at risk. You should also consult with your host country partners and institutions about proper host country practices.

Note: Schools will not award degrees to students whose work was not approved by their IRB, and some journals will not publish work that includes non-IRB-approved surveys that put human subjects at risk.

Not sure whether your survey puts human subjects at risk? Consult with your university's IRB.

USAID projects where a human subject is not at risk have exempt status. In this case, surveyors need only to get verbal consent from survey subjects.