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.
An IRB is a group of individuals who are tasked with approving and overseeing research that involves human subjects. Their job is to ensure that the research is carried out ethically, as safely as possible, and in compliance with laws and regulations.
IRBs are meant to be representative of the communities they serve, and are required to have diverse membership, including community members who are outside the institution. In addition, IRBs need members with broad ranges of professional and personal experience, in order to provide the expertise needed to understand and evaluate research projects. People with all kinds of backgrounds and experiences are needed on an IRB!
Human Subjects Research (HSR) includes any type of research project that involves people or people’s private information. HSR can include:
And so much more! You can see why a broad range of IRB members is required, because there are a broad range of types of HSR.
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.
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.
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.
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.