Skip to Main Content

Institutional Review Board

Statement of Purpose

Wabash College is committed to safeguarding the welfare, rights and privacy of all persons who participate as subjects in research projects conducted under its auspices, and to ensuring that the subjects of such research are aware of the rights and the protections available to them. Moreover, the College is required to assure the federal government that such safeguards are being provided and enforced for all federally funded grants. These safeguards derive from the following ethical principles, which were first articulated in the Belmont Report issued by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1979.

Respect for persons: recognition of the personal dignity and autonomy of individuals and special protection of those persons with diminished autonomy or particular vulnerabilities, including prisoners, children, those who are mentally or cognitively disabled, pregnant women, or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons. Human subjects should enter into research voluntarily and with adequate information to give informed consent to participate.

Beneficence: the obligation to protect persons from harm by maximizing anticipated benefits and minimizing possible risks.  Possible risks to human subjects should be weighed against possible benefits to the subjects, as well as against the possible improvement of knowledge.

Justice: fairness in the distribution of research benefits and burdens. In selecting human subjects for research, investigators should ensure that no group of participants is either consistently selected to participate in research, or consistently deprived of the opportunity to do so.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the body charged with reviewing and approving all proposed research involving human subjects, whether funded or not, conducted under the auspices of Wabash College by its faculty, students or staff, or by outside investigators using Wabash College students, personnel, facilities, or data collected at the College. "Research" is defined as "systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalized knowledge" (45 CFR 46.102d). Research subject to review thus includes, but is not limited to: pilot studies; class projects aimed for publication or presentation outside the classroom (including at the Research Celebration); Master's theses; PhD dissertations; co-supervised work; independent research; and senior theses, whether such research takes place on or off the Wabash College campus, including work done outside of the United States.  Note that oral history is generally excluded from IRB review but the investigator must confirm the status of each project through a conversation with the Chair or a member of the IRB.  The IRB representative will seek to confirm (1) that the results are not generalizable and thus not human subjects research under the federal definition; and (2) that best practice is followed in the design of oral history projects.

The procedures for review described below adhere to the regulations of the Department of Health and Human Services (45CFR 46, as amended and published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2018 and any subsequent amendments), and to the Assurances filed by the College with the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP). The IRB has adapted its policies substantially from the policies of Bucknell University, which are based on the same federal standards.  

[The text and documents of this website are modifications of the Bucknell University Institutional Review Board website, and used by permission of Jerry Rackoff, IRB Chair, Bucknell University.]

Questions? Contact the Wabash IRB Chair Dr. Karen L. Gunther, Professor of Psychology
Telephone: 765/361-6286, Email: