RAMS Systems Policies Forms Events Contact Us

Lines background [View Image]

Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation

Information for research participants

What is “human subjects research,” and how are volunteers protected?

If you are considering volunteering for research, these are great questions to ask! “Human subjects research” is research that involves people, or people’s private information. There are federal, state, and local laws, as well as VCU institutional standards, in place that ensure people who volunteer for research are protected. These regulations and policies require that human subjects research be externally reviewed and monitored by “Institutional Review Boards” (IRBs).

We have a few frequently asked questions on this topic. Click on each question to show its answer.


What should I know if I want to volunteer for research?

Volunteering for research is always your personal choice. Choosing whether to volunteer for research is a big decision, and it is important to be well-informed, not just about the specific project you are considering volunteering for, but also to be informed about what it’s like to volunteer for research in general. The resources linked below can help you understand how human research is conducted, what you should expect, and questions you should ask.

  • Becoming a research volunteer
    This short pamphlet explains research, and lists some questions you may wish to ask when you are considering volunteering for research.
  • About research participation
    This website from the Office of Human Research Protections (the federal agency tasked with enforcing the regulations that protect human research volunteers) has many resources to assist you. From short educational videos, to lists of questions to ask, to information about the regulations that protect volunteers, this site can be very helpful to you in making an informed decision.
  • NIH Clinical Research Trials and You
    This website from the National Institutes of Health offers guidance to potential research volunteers who want to join clinical trials. Clinical trials are a type of human subjects research that are designed to test new drugs, devices, or other interventions intended to improve health outcomes for people. This website offers FAQs on clinical trials, guidance for parents of children who might volunteer for clinical trials, and will help you locate clinical trials to volunteer for.

How can I find research studies to volunteer for?

There are various ways you can find out about research studies to volunteer for. You may be approached by a researcher directly, you might see a flyer advertising a study, or you can seek out studies yourself and contact the researchers about volunteering. The links below will take you to a variety of sites where you can find research projects that may be of interest to you, your family, or people you know.

  • VCU Study Finder
    This tool will help you find research that is occurring right here at VCU. Search keywords to find something you’re looking for specifically, or browse all listings if you’re not sure what you want. 
  • Find Massey Cancer clinical trials
    Find cancer-related research to volunteer for here. Search by disease type and/or keywords to find a match for you. 
  • Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry
    Twin research is a vital type of research that can help advance our understanding of many scientific areas. The Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (MATR) is located at VCU. If you volunteer with MATR, you may be contacted in the future to ask if you want to volunteer for a variety of different types of research.
  • Research Match
    Research Match is a tool that helps match potential volunteers with studies that suit their interests or needs. Like the MATR, if you sign up with Research Match, you may be contacted in the future to ask if you want to volunteer for a variety of different types of research.
  • ClinicalTrials.gov
    This is a database of clinical trials taking place across the U.S. Researchers conducting clinical trials are required to register their clinical trials on this website. You can search for ongoing clinical trials based on disease type and location, and you can find results from completed clinical trials.

Information for current volunteers

Sometimes, VCU has information that is relevant to people who are currently volunteering for research. See the resources below to learn more, and keep visiting this website for more updates.

Questions or concerns about your volunteering for research at VCU?

Research volunteers have rights. You have the right to speak to someone other than a researcher about any questions or concerns you have about your volunteering for research. You can email Research Integrity and Ethics or call (804) 827-2157 to ask questions or discuss concerns.

Contact us

General questions
(804) 828-0868

Questions related to IRB submissions

Questions related to single IRB, reliance agreements and/or external IRBs

For individual staff email addresses
See Contact us page for staff directory

View graphic version