How does the IRB make its decisions?

Upon electronic receipt of an application from the Principal Investigator, the IRB Chair vets the application materials, checking whether the application is complete and whether the materials contain any obvious errors, omissions, or other qualities that would merit non-approval.  

If the IRB Chair determines that the application is complete and lacks any disqualifying features, the Chair forwards all application materials via email to the members of the IRB Committee.  (Exception: Requests for renewal of IRB approval typically are not distributed to members of the IRB Committee. See below for a description of the procedure for renewal applications.)  

If the application is either incomplete or contains disqualifying features, the Chair emails a request for resubmission to the Principal Investigator along with a list of recommended improvements; upon receipt of revised application materials, the IRB Chair once again vets the application.

Requests for Exempted or Expedited Reviews: After the IRB Chair distributes vetted applications for exemption from review or expedited review to the IRB Committee, members of the committee have five business days to relay any concerns or objections to the IRB Chair.  

If there are no qualms about the application, the IRB Chair notifies the Principal Investigator via email that the application is approved and mails an approval letter.  

If there are qualms, the IRB Chair relays a summary of the concerns to the Principal Investigator and awaits submission of corrected application materials; upon receipt of such materials, the IRB Chair determines whether the qualms have been addressed and proceeds accordingly.

Requests for Full Review: After the IRB Chair distributes vetted applications for full review to the IRB Committee, members of the committee convene in person within two weeks to discuss the application.


If there are no qualms about the application, the IRB Chair notifies the Principal Investigator via email that the application is approved and mails an approval letter.  

If there are qualms, the IRB Chair relays a summary of the concerns to the Principal Investigator and awaits submission of corrected application materials; upon receipt of such materials, the IRB Chair determines whether the qualms have been addressed and proceeds accordingly.

Requests for Renewal: Upon receipt of an application from the Principle Investigator for renewal of a previously approved application, the IRB Chair determines within five business days whether the application is complete and whether it merits approval.  

If the application is either incomplete or does not merit approval, the IRB Chair relays any concerns to the Principle Investigator and awaits submission of corrected application materials.

When the IRB Chair determines that the application is complete and merits approval, the Chair notifies the Principal Investigator via email that the application is approved and mails an approval letter.

You may email any questions about the application process to Dr. Nicholaos Jones, IRB Chair, at irb@uah.edu.  Please include the phrase <Application Question> in your subject line.