If your research involves human subjects, you need to apply for IRB approval.
If your project is not a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge, then your project does not constitute research involving human subjects and you do not need to file for IRB approval.
If your project is designed to obtain information about living human individuals through intervention or interaction with those persons, then you need to file for IRB approval.
Projects that obtain information through intervention with a person include (but are not limited to) procedures that gather physical data about a person, and manipulations of a person or a person's environment that elicit information about the person.
Projects obtain information through interaction with a person if there is communication or interpersonal contact between the person and an investigator.
If your project is designed to obtain identifiable private information about a person, you need to file for IRB approval.
A project obtains identifiable information about a person if the identity of the person can be ascertained readily from the information or if the identity of the person is associated with the information.
Private information about a person includes (but is not limited to) information that a reasonable person would expect to not be made public (such as a medical record) and information about a person's behavior in a context where it is reasonable to expect that no information-gathering about that behavior is occurring.
If (1) your project is designed to obtain identifiable information about a person but the information is not private, and (2) your project is not designed to obtain information through intervention or interaction with a person, then your project does not consitute research that involves human subjects and you do not need to file for IRB approval.
Examples of research that involves human subjects include: surveys or cognitive tests designed to measure psychological reactions or mental abilities, human factors research, testing medical equipment on humans, tests for the effectiveness of drug treatments, and other therapies.
If you have a question about whether your research requires IRB approval, please contact Dr. Pam O'Neal, IRB Chair, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 256.824.6100.