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Institutional Review Board (IRB): FAQs

I'm not yet in 9903/9913 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/section 2. 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?

If you will be recruiting participants from multiple populations (such as students and teachers), you must make this clear throughout your application.

You will need separate materials (recruitment and consent), one for each group.  Please attend the Group Writing Sessions on either Recruitment or Consent Materials to learn details.

Before submitting to the IRB, make sure that this information is aligned across your recruitment material/s, consent material/s, 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 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 materials, recruitment materials, 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.