Research & Review Categories

Towson University’s Institutional Review Board has three types of reviews: accelerated, standard, and full board. Your research will fall under one of these three types of reviews based on if you meet certain conditions for exempt status and which categories for exempt or expedited your research qualifies for as posted by the Office of Human Research Protections.

IRB doc

Towson University's IRB has a unique review system. Federal regulations classify research into three types: exempt, expedited, and full board. Each type of research has their own set of categories, which fall into three types of review at Towson University. The review types are as follows: accelerated, standard, and full board. 

Read further on for the definitions of these research and review types, as well as how to determine which one your study falls under. 

Types of research

Three Categories of Research

The Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) divides research into three types of categories: exempt, expedited, and full board. 

Towson University requires that all protocols that meet the criteria for human subjects research be reviewed by the IRB regardless of whether they meet exempt or expedited status. Applications will fall under three types of review based on these categorizations: accelerated, standard, or full board review. 

Exempt

Exempt means the research involves minimal risk* (see definition below) to participants and does not require ongoing review once a determination of exemption is made, unless the research has changed so that it no longer meets the exemption criteria. The OHRP has eight (8) categories of exemption. Depending on which category your study falls under and whether or not certain conditions are met, your study may require either accelerated or standard review. 

NOTE: Certain exempt categories may qualify for either accelerated review or standard review. 

Expedited

Expedited status does not mean there will be a faster review. Expedited means that the study involves minimal risk and therefore does not require the full IRB committee to review the study. Rather, the study will be reviewed by a single IRB member via standard review. Studies approved via standard review require a progress report every three (3) years. 

NOTE: All expedited categories will qualify for standard review. 

Full Board

Full Board review is for research that involves more than minimal risk, although some minimal risk studies may require full board review at the request of a reviewer. Full board review requires a quorum of IRB members to review and discuss the study.

*Minimal risk “… means that the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those risks ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological tests.”  

Please refer to the PI manual for more information on how to define what is minimal risk.

TU types of Review 

Accelerated Review

This review is limited to certain exempt categories of research where there is (a) minimal risk, (b) anonymous data OR (c) no sensitive information being collected. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will be reviewed within approximately one (1) week once processed. 

Standard Review

This review is for ALL expedited categories of research, as well as specific exempt categories. Applications are due by the 3rd Friday of each month. Once processed, you will receive a confirmation email and should expect a response within approximately three (3) weeks. 

Full Board Review

This review is reserved for research that is greater than minimal risk and does not meet the criteria for exempt or expedited research. Applications are due by the 3rd Friday of each month. Once processed, you will receive a confirmation email and should expect a response within approximately four (4) weeks. A quorum of IRB members must meet to discuss and review the application. 

Steps to Determine Which Review You Qualify For

Step 1: Do you meet the conditions for exempt research?

Review the following question that is found under section I. H of the Request for Accelerated Review form. 

Do you intend to ... ?

  • Collect information that could place the person at risk for criminal or civil liability such as illicit drug use, underage drinking, or criminal behavior, etc.
  • Collect information that could cause the participant significant distress such as past sexual abuse/assault, prior traumatic experiences, etc.
  • Collect sensitive medical or mental health information such as history of STDs, HIV, abortions, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Collect reportable information (i.e., child abuse or neglect, elder abuse or neglect, incest, suicidal or homicidal thoughts or behaviors, sexual experiences with a USM faculty member)
  • Collect information that could damage the participants’ financial standing, employability, educational advancement, or reputation
  • Use deception and you do not have prospective consent from potential subjects to participate in research involving deception
  • Include a behavioral intervention that does not meet the criteria for benign as defined in Category II.3, below.
  • Collect data from voice, video, digital, or image recordings (this excludes recordings of public observation)?
  • Collect data with individual identifiers (this excludes secondary research of existing data)?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you do not qualify for accelerated review. Complete the Request for Standard or Full Board Review. 

Step 2: Which category will your research fall under?

If you answer no to all of the questions above (under Section I. H of the Request for Accelerated Review), continue on to Section II and determine if your study fully meets one of the accelerated review categories. 

  • If yes, continue completing the Request for Accelerated Review. 

NOTE: If your study will involve children or legal minors, you must complete the Request for Accelerated Review Involving Minors.