Human Subjects in Research

The Human Subjects Institutional Review Board is a local review board, established by the WMU Board of Trustees in accord with federal regulations, to interpret and apply federal regulations, state law, and research sponsor requirements for the use of human subjects in research. The HSIRB is charged with the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects in research conducted under the aegis of Western Michigan University.

The three basic ethical principles that guide the HSIRB are derived from the Belmont Report and they are respect for persons, beneficence and justice.

All research involving human subjects must be submitted to HSIRB for review. The HSIRB—not the researcher— will apply federal regulations and University policy to determine if IRB oversight is required. Federal regulations define “research” as “a systematic empirical investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” Federal regulations define “human subject” as “a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction, or identifiable private information.”

Since 1972, University policy has required that all research be reviewed regardless of funding source. If human subject data will be aggregated, analyzed, or summarized for publication (whether inside or outside the University), it requires HSIRB submission and review.

By submitting a protocol to the HSIRB:

  • Investigators comply with university policy and federal regulations.
  • Investigators promote the protection of the rights and welfare of research participants.
  • Students learn about the ethical conduct of human research.

Review process map

Common practices—standard operating procedures when conducting research that involves human subjects


Application forms

To access HSIRB forms for your initial application, continuing review or final report, and class project registration, visit the Forms section. 


Contact the associate director research compliance