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Quick Tips from HSD

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  • Contact

    Sep 17, 2015 at 12:00am

    Quick Tips knows that sometimes it can feel like trying to get a message through a worm hole to the Vega System when you need an HSD staff member. contact wormholeThough our recent reorganization is intended to improve this situation, it has temporarily resulted in some confusion. So here's a quick rundown of best bets.

    First, the Team Operations Lead (TOL) is now the primary contact for each IRB committee. So when you access this contact page please look for the TOL first, and give our disadvantageously-alphabetically-last-named-folks a break.

    Second, all mail to HSD goes through our front desk. Our wonderful front desk folks remove the items from the envelope and send the items on to our fantastic intake coordinator who patiently stamps and sorts all items. So if you are trying to reach a specific person or team, don't write their name on the envelope; instead, put a sticky note or memo on the item itself. The envelope will have long since been recycled by the time it gets to where you wanted it to go.

    Lastly, we still have the handy-dandy look up widget (which doesn't work in Internet Explorer with Compatibility View turned on). It's been re-purposed for all departments on campus. (And as soon as we can find a more reliable department list, we'll stick that in there too!) Just start typing in the first few letters of your department, and your contact should appear. If you can't find your department, just contact the front desk, (206-543-0098 back to the super-helpful front desk…) and they can help you out.

    So follow these helpful hints, and Jody Foster won't be the only one communicating with the Vega System!

  • What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and HIPAA Authorization Forms?

    Jul 6, 2015 at 12:00am

    ...absolutely nothing. Believe me, Quick Tips has tried. From what rhymes with HIPAA, to HIPAA knock-knock jokes, HIPAA is just not that funny. Many a gray hair is associated with trying to navigate the HIPAA privacy regulations. This is why in May 2015, HSD worked with the UW Medicine Compliance office to streamline and simplify the process for researchers.

    HIPAA, the Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, passed in 1996, was intended to reform health care. One part was to allow people to maintain their health care across jobs - the "portability" portion. The "accountability" portion was intended to maintain the privacy of electronic medical records. This is the part of the act that most affects research. For those HIPAA nerds out there, there is a well-written history of HIPAA and its effects on research, in the National Center for Biotechnology Information article "Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Enhancing Privacy, Improving Health Through Research".

    Back to that simplification part - HSD no longer needs to see the HIPAA Authorization form that researchers use with subjects to obtain permission to use their medical records. We've clarified with UW Medicine that HSD and the IRB are not responsible for receiving or reviewing HIPAA authorization forms. However, researchers should continue to use the HIPAA authorization template posted on the HSD website, and they should continue to keep the authorization form separate from study consent forms. HSD hopes that this simplification and clarification, along with the other clarifications noted in our new HIPAA Guidance document, help make the process a little easier, prevent future gray hairs, and creates a little HIPAA harmony.

  • Off the Record

    Mar 3, 2015 at 12:00am

    HSD might be slow to adopt new technologies (electronic submission, ahem...) but when we do, we dive right in!

    Check out the HSD Blog: Off the Record. Not only will you find links to interesting articles, tidbits about HSD staff, and scintillating opinion pieces, but you will also find even more tips!

    The blog format allows us to go further in depth for a thorough look at a particularly confusing issue, focus in for a deep explanation of a complex regulation, and add IRB memes at will.

    Anyone with a UW NetID can comment. Once you do make a comment, you can ask to receive an email when new posts are added.

    So take advantage of another way to keep up with HSD as we enter the 21st Century!

  • Announcement Tab

    Jan 5, 2015 at 12:00am

    Every year, Quick Tips resolves to clean out the email in-box. But the layers and layers of unread information taunt and tease. What if there's something important in there?

    That's why, in addition to helping inundate your in-box on a monthly basis, HSD also posts all email newsletters to the Announcements tab on our home page. Even if you accidentally delete an important email from HSD, we've got a record of it.

    We also post relevant emails from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) under the Regulatory Updates tab. (We don't flood your in-box with these emails.)

    And last, if you miss a Quick Tips, you can catch up by checking in with the Quick Tips tab.

    Now, here at the beginning of 2015, it's okay to just hit "Delete"!

  • Language Barriers

    Dec 5, 2014 at 12:00am

    "The dreaded holiday party at the dean’s house," the researcher thought. "Well, maybe not so much dreaded..." she watched her colleague dip into the potent eggnog for a second time." This could get interesting." She drifted towards the wall of books.

    "Nice collection, isn't it?" One of her graduate students had already been perusing the shelves.

    "Certainly is..." the researcher absent mindedly ran her hands over the thick mahogany case. "Nice..." the server passing hors d’oeuvres suddenly caught her eye. "That person looks familiar", she thought.

     "I have a great idea!" The grad student's enthusiasm snapped her attention back to the book shelf. "Let's adjust our research project to include non-English speakers!" The student was reaching for a particularly colorful volume on the paintings of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera. "I speak a little Spanish...why not?"

    "Hum...let’s think about this," the researcher replied.

    "No worries, I'll fill out a modification form, and we’ll be ready to go!" The grad student’s excitement was contagious.

    The researcher began thinking of the possibilities. More subjects, different points of view, a more diverse population...

    "Wait a minute," the researcher stopped herself. "The modification form lacks information on adding a non-English speaking population in the middle of a study. We need to take it upon ourselves to think of the consequences."

    "Oh? What do you mean?" the grad student asked.

    "Well, think about it, informed consent is an ongoing process, not just your bit of Spanish getting someone to sign a consent form. We have to make sure we have someone fluent on call to answer questions, be available in case of emergency, and make sure the subject really understands what we're doing and is truly informed. Not to mention we might need to hire additional staff."

    "Oh! I never thought about it like that." The grad student re-shelved the book with a thud. "Hey, why is that server winking at you and giving you the thumbs up?"

    The researcher smiled. "I think I know."

    A loud clinking of crystal glasses from near the punch bowl caught both of their attention.

    "I think my colleague wants to give a speech." The researcher quickly reached into her handbag for her phone. "Hash-tag, eggnog..."

  • Don't phone it in with NIH requirements

    Oct 10, 2014 at 12:00am

    The researcher was positive that this meeting would never end. The last drop of coffee had long since sizzled away in the stained machine on the side table. The only thing left to eat was a withered grape and a small mound of shaved almonds that had fallen off the croissants.

    At least the view was good. The researcher glanced at the city skyline, imagining she was on that plane far in the distance, traveling to finally begin her work gathering genomic data for her new NIH grant.

    "And the National Institutes of Health has announced their final Genomic Data Sharing Policy…" her colleague droned on; his monotone voice always caused eyelids to droop. "…as of January 25, 2015, data repositories for large-scale genomic data…"

    Bzzzzz. Even a fly beating itself hopelessly against the window couldn't escape the torpor.

    "'The informed consent under which the data or samples were collected is the basis for the submitting institution to determine the appropriateness of data submission to NIH-designated repositories…'" He was now reading directly from his PowerPoint slides.

    "Amateur." She scoffed under her breath.

    "Bzzzzzzz…" This time it wasn't the fly; the researcher's phone began to vibrate on the table.

    She caught a few curious glances and a pointed look from her colleague as she reached for the phone to silence it.

    It was a text message: "U need to pay attention to this!" She swiftly looked around the room, but everyone had retreated back to their personal thoughts, while her colleague continued to read from his slides.texting

    The phone vibrated again in her hand: "Yr thinking of doing NIH funded genomic research right?" She nearly dropped the phone.

    "Who r u?" she texted back.

    "A requirement from NIH is to share your genomic data, right?" The text came in immediately after she hit send.

    "Who's asking?" She typed. She started to get the feeling it was that irritatingly "helpful" but anonymous person again that she kept encountering on and around campus.

    "You need to make sure you have appropriate informed consent!" was all that came back.

    "Well, of course…" She typed back. This person is so rude…

    The researcher looked up at her colleague's slides again and read:

    NIH expects all funded investigators to adhere to the Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy, and compliance with this Policy will become a special term and condition in the Notice of Award of the Contract Award. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the funding agreement could lead to enforcement actions, including the withholding of funding, consistent with 45 CFR 74.62 and/or other authorities as appropriate.

    "Hum…" Helpful, or annoying, this person seemed to always jar her attention at the right time.

    "HSD has already crafted the appropriate language for your consent form. Just visit their website. You'll see all the appropriate language in Sections 3 and 4 of the SUPPLEMENT: GWAS dbGaP." A new message appeared.

    "HSD has been ready for this 4ever!" Another new message.

    "I'll be sure to keep that in mind." The researcher typed back, hoping that would end this exchange. But no, one last message came back:


  • Much ado about scrolling

    Sep 15, 2014 at 12:00am

    Much ado about scrolling

    Like Benedick and Beatrice, Quick Tips has a love-hate relationship with PDF. Well, not exactly hate, more like: Quick Tips gets annoyed with certain features and shouts "ARG!", disrupting the peace and quiet of the office.

    So you know that annoying "jumping" that PDF forms do as you scroll through them?  Quick Tips has a relief for that.

    Here are the steps:

    • In Adobe Acrobat or Reader, select "View"scroll
    • Select "Page Display"
    • Check "Enable Scrolling"
    • Uncheck "Show Gaps Between Pages"

    And voila! It's smooth scrolling. You may just end up married to the idea of PDF forms in the end!

  • It's Taste Test Time!

    Jun 4, 2014 at 12:00am

    Woohoo! Quick Tips loves a taste test. This means eating, and giving opinions; two things at which Quick Tips excels. (That, and sleeping, but that's for another eNews issue.)

    After answering an ad in the Daily for human subjects needed to give opinions on flavors of soup, we were surprised to see an HSD stamp on the consent form.

    Turns out, at the time that HSD reviewed it, this study was not Exempt per the federal regulations because subjects were asked to identify pictures of vegetables on flash cards prior to the taste test. The researchers wanted to know if looking at pictures of vegetables made the subjects more interested in the vegetable soups. Quick Tips has some questions.

    QT: What? What about Exempt Category 6. "Wholesome foods involved in food quality evaluation"?

    R: Unfortunately, the study did not qualify (at the time) for this category. The fact that there was a "task" (identifying vegetable) and priming prior to the tasting excluded the study from exemption.

    QT: What?

    R: Exactly. We were told that because there was a task, it needed Minimal Risk review instead of Exempt.

    QT: Is this study federally funded?

    R: No, we're not funded at all.

    QT: What about Exempt Category 7?

    R: HSD hadn't yet incorporated Exempt Category 7 into their flexibility initiative!! But we heard they have now! We are very excited about the possibilities, this study would have totally qualified.

    Wow! So this Exempt 7 thing could be very cool for researchers who are conducting non-federally funded minimal risk, non-physically invasive, interventions or interactions associated with educational tests, survey procedures, interview procedures, or observation of public behavior. Check out the SOP for full details.

    (If you were wondering, Quick Tips did favor the cauliflower soup after incorrectly identifying Romanesco. Apparently not a strength of ours.)

  • The Future of IRB Review

    Apr 1, 2014 at 12:00am

    Are you concerned about future approval for human subjects research? Twenty to thirty years in the future? Will human subject regulations apply to cyborgs? Zombies? Will teleportation require FDA approval? If you have these burning questions, you are in luck! HSD is pleased to announce the formation of a new IRB, Committee Omega (Ω).


    Staffed entirely by precogs, Committee Ω will be reviewing all future research. HSD will have your approval ready before you even know what research question you are trying to answer. The best part: we will be able to anticipate any adverse events, ensuring your experience with our Regulatory Affairs team is seamless.

    The precogs will of course be adhering to a strict set of regulations that will be developed some time in the year 2029. (These regulations include regulations on precogs.) Unfortunately, this means that they cannot give you future research results, the result of any particular grant application, or the winner of any Superbowl, MLS Cup, World Series or (get this) NBA Championship, but they can tell us that 2057 is a particularly good year for sports fans in Seattle.

    HSD is happy to welcome this new committee. They tell us there is no need for you to submit an application. They will be calling you.

  • Pub Crawl

    Mar 5, 2014 at 12:00am

    The research scientist and her colleague were sitting in their favorite pub on the Ave. “Hum…this stout looks good, a 'lovely coffee flavor...'".

    "Don't spill it on your laptop." Her colleague had already ordered a liter of the day's special; he'd set it smack in the center of the small table, leaving little room for either of their laptops, which they both had open.

    She grumbled slightly under her breath. She was sure her colleague couldn't hear her over the chatter and the rumbling 70's style guitar riffs pumping out over the sound system. "Right, anyway...like I was saying, I've got to get a Status Report into the IRB." She jabbed at her keyboard trying to get the Human Subjects Division web page to refresh. "Isn't there any Wi-Fi here?" She looked around the cozy room hoping to catch someone's eye.

    "Nope." Her colleague pulled out his cell phone and waived it around above his head. "I'm not picking up anything."

    "Well, my wizarding friend, I guess I can just use the copy that I last saved to my hard drive." The research scientist sighed and swiveled in her seat, this time with more determination to get someone's attention. A person with notepad in hand appeared. "Great, hi, can I get a..."

    "Don't do it," The server interrupted.

    "What? I just want a pint of..."

    "Don't use that form from your hard drive!"

    "Whoa, what are you talking about?"

    "The Status Report, the Status Report! Download the latest one from the HSD website! That way you'll always have the latest version, with all the latest information, and the Intake Coordinator won't send it back and the reviewers won't email you with a bunch of questions and...what kind of beer would you like?"

    The research scientist shook her head. "Wait a second; are you that strange person that's been popping up all over campus?"

    "Sorry. Just delivering a message from someone at the bar." The server pulled out a pen. "So, what will you have?"

    "So strange..." the research scientist trailed off. She looked over at the crowded bar, but no one looked familiar. Why not just send over a beer instead of crazy advice? She turned back to the server, "Do you have Wi-Fi here?"

    "Hey," her colleague spoke up, "close that laptop and order a beer."

    "Okay, I'll have what he's having."

  • "An-ti-ci-pay-ay-shun..."

    Dec 4, 2013 at 12:00am

    Here at QuickTips we've gotten used to that feeling. You may remember way back in 2011, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they were proposing major changes to the rules regarding the protection of human research subjects, aka the "Common Rule".

    The ambitious proposal, titled "Human Subjects Research Protections: Enhancing Protections for Research Subjects and Reducing Burden, Delay and Ambiguity for Investigators" sought to strengthen and streamline the human subjects research protections that have been in place since 1991.

    But, things happen, and the whole proposal seems to have slipped quietly to the background. The HHS department has been a bit pre-occupied with other projects lately.

    ketchup commercial

    Don't worry, QuickTips and the HSD newsletter will keep you up-to-date when any new developments occur. So don't dismiss the possibility that we may someday have a modernized version of the "Common Rule"! Like for ketchup or Cat Stevens, we'll keep waiting!

  • Advice in an Elevator

    Nov 7, 2013 at 12:00am

    The research scientist stood in front of the Health Sciences BB elevators, waiting for what seemed like an eternity, when her colleague appeared at her elbow. He leaned over her shoulder.

    "What are you reading?" He asked, as his coffee cup started dripping over the pages.

    She sighed, shaking the paper, trying to rid it of the coffee before it soaked in too much. "I'm just going over my UW IRB application." She thumbed through the sheets of paper. "I want to make sure that I've got all the right attachments."

    The elevator finally arrived. The researcher and her colleague stepped in. The elevator was full of people and a large food trolley. "I'm very excited about starting this new oncology study..." she continued. "I've just joined the Cancer Consortium, and they offer some great support services." She waived her application back and forth to dry off the spilled coffee.

    "Oh no!" A voice piped up from somewhere at the back of the elevator. After some shuffling, the voice continued from behind the food trolley. "Don't apply to the UW IRB!"

    "What the heck..." the research scientist scanned the crowded elevator, looking for the source of the voice. "This is happening far too often..." she mumbled under her breath.

    The elevator lurched to a stop on the 3rd floor, and more people pushed on.

    "Read the application cover page. Most UW cancer-related studies go to the Fred Hutch Cancer Consortium IRB instead of the UW IRB."

    The researcher twisted around, trying to pinpoint the location of the voice. "You're not seriously hiding behind a food trolley, are you?"

    "Give me a break," the voice squeaked back. "It's hard to be mysterious and deliver timely advice in an elevator."

    "That mysterious voice is right you know. It says right here: 'Do not complete this form if you are member of the Cancer Consortium.'" The colleague tapped the cover sheet a few times. "Right here..."

    The elevator stopped on the 4th floor. The researcher sighed again as more people pushed on and only two exited. "Well, the link is right here, I guess I can transfer all this information over."

    "That's the spirit!" The voice from behind the trolley yelled. The elevator lurched to yet another floor and the person pushing the trolley started to move out. "After all, tomorrow is another day!" The voice moved along behind the trolley, out of the elevator.

    "Someday, you're going to have to thank that mysterious voice." The colleague took a giant slurp of coffee.

    "Uh, yeah." The research scientist scratched her head. "I just wish that voice would pop up before I filled anything out."

  • What Time is Modification Time?

    Sep 1, 2013 at 12:00am

    The Health Sciences shuttle bus lurched with the heavy traffic, causing some of the researcher’s coffee to slosh unexpectedly out of the “no spill” lid onto her lap.

    "Darn this trip back and forth to Harborview," she muttered, wiping ineffectively at the small puddle with the plastic wrapping from her half-eaten sandwich.

    The shuttle bus lurched again, but this time she was ready. With the sheaf of paper she had tucked under her arm, she covered the lid.


    "Ack! That's my Modification Form!" She cried, as the realization of what she'd done hit her.

    "Should have put that in an evelope instead of delivering it in person." Her always-helpful colleage was travelling to the main campus to attend a seminar; he sat right next to her.

    "Thanks," she replied dryly. "I really want to get this into HSD! I think one of the IRBs is going to review my initial application next week, and I just realized that the number of subjects I requested wasn't enough..." The researcher trailed off as the sudden sound of a rattling newspaper, and cough, sounded behind her. "Sick people should just stay home..." she muttered under her breath.

    "Ahem," the newspaper rustled again. "You should be glad you spilled coffee on that Modification Form."

    "Excuse me?" The researcher turned fully around, only to see a giant headline announcing the problems with the Highway 99 tunnel dig.

    "Yes, unless the IRB has already approved your application, you really shouldn't be sending in a Modification. There's nothing to Modify, because nothing has been approved. Instead, you should send in that Modification right after you receive your approval." The voice squeaked out from behind the paper.

    "Oh, really?" She asked. "I wish I'd known that before coming over here from Harborview." The bus pulled up to the curb at one of the shuttle stops.

    "And here's a napkin." A hand holding a compost-able napkin from UW Food Services snaked out from behind the newspaper.

    "Thank you." The researcher smiled, but before she could turn fully around, the stranger was out the open shuttle door and gone.

    "Oh well," said her colleague. "You'll always have the Health Sciences Express."

  • Exempt Status Changes

    Aug 8, 2013 at 12:00am


    "I can't seem to get my subjects to answer the survey questions honestly." The research scientist sighed as she sipped her rapidly cooling latte. "Three of them are clearly trying to give me the answers they think I want to hear, and one is thoroughly combative." She traced her finger around a coffee stain on the table.

    "How about changing the survey questions?" Her colleague was always giving unwanted advice.

    "No…" She sighed again. "I've been through these questions backwards and forwards; this is just a classic example of demand characteristics. I need to use deception so they don't know what I'm trying to evaluate, but the study is otherwise Exempt. I didn't want to do anything that was going to mean going through the full-fledged IRB review process." The research scientist rested her elbows on the table and placed her chin in her hands, thinking of all the paperwork, and of the lost funding for the coordinators who used to handle all the details.

    "Psst..." she hears a breathy whisper from behind. At first, she thinks it's the milk steamer at the espresso counter.

    "Hey, ahem!" A louder cough and a nudge finally force her out of her paperwork fog.

    "Yes?" she turns around.

    "Haven't you read the latest HSD eNews?" A slightly accusatory voice pipes up from behind an enormous laptop.

    "Well, I was going to…"

    "If you had, then you'd know that HSD just changed its policy regarding the automatic exclusion of studies that use deception from the Exempt Status." The unseen speaker continued: "Now studies using deception or concealment may qualify for Exempt Status when all applicable Exempt criteria are met and when the deception or incomplete disclosure is necessary to ensure valid results."

    "What?" The research scientist's colleague exclaimed. "Is that true? Or are you deceiving us right now?"

    "No!" squeaked the voice from behind the laptop. "As long as the deception isn't being used to get subjects to do something that they wouldn't do if the information was fully disclosed to them and as long as the deception creates no more than minimal risk of physical or emotional distress."

    The research scientist smiled."Where did you get all this wonderful information?"

    "Just read that new Standard Operating Procedure about Exempt Determination!" The unseen speaker quickly slammed the laptop shut and hurried out the back door.

    "Who was that elusive person, anyway?" The research scientist turned back to her colleague and sipped the last foamy bits of her coffee. Now the smiley face the barista made in the crema seemed appropriate.

    "It sounds like you should definitely be reading that eNews!" Her colleague exclaimed.

    Sigh. More unwanted advice.


  • Exculpatory Language

    Apr 30, 2013 at 12:00am

    By regularly reading Quick Tips, you waive your right to ask HSD any questions.

    Now what kind of statement is that? It's exculpatory! And per the federal regulations, this kind of language should not be included in consent forms. (See 45 CFR 46.116)

    Exculpatory language in a consent form is language which "has the general effect of freeing or appearing to free an individual or an entity from malpractice, negligence, blame, fault, or guilt" according to the draft guidance released by OHRP (Office for Human Research Protections) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) on August 19, 2011.

    In particular, it is not allowable to use statements that appear to limit or waive the University's liability or the subject's ability to make claims against the University for negative experiences associated with the research.

    Here's an example from an actual consent form: "I hereby hold harmless and release and forever discharge the UW from all claims, demands, and causes of action which I, my heirs, representatives, executor, administrators, or any other persons acting on my behalf or on behalf of my estate have or may have by reason of this authorization." Needless to say, Quick Tips' red pencil was called into action on this one!

    The regulations allow an interesting exception to this rule: it is acceptable to ask subjects to waive their right to property rights and any profits eventually created because of the research, or future use of their biological specimens. For example, this statement: "I voluntarily and freely donate any and all blood and tissue samples to the UW and hereby relinquish all property rights, title, and interest I may have in those samples."

    So don't worry, you can keep sending your questions to HSD. But also, keep reading Quick Tips! We'll never use exculpatory language again.

  • Encryption

    Mar 29, 2013 at 12:00am

    Back when Quick Tips was in grad school, we had an entire file box of research data stolen from the backseat of our Pacer. decoder ring Luckily, it had been encrypted, and nobody without the super-secret Cracker Jack decoder ring could figure out what was there.

    Here in the 21st Century, we have much better tools to encrypt our research data! UW Medicine IT has a few great web pages outlining how you can easily encrypt Microsoft Office files, and with a little more effort encrypt your emails, and your mobile devices.

    The IRB loves to hear how researchers are protecting their data, and would rather not hear that no one can get to it because it's behind an unused filing cabinet in the back room that's been closed off for years and only the janitor has the key.

    Simply follow these great steps, and you'll be on your way to becoming an encryption wiz:

    Thanks, UW Medicine IT! Now let's see how much we can get for the decoder ring on e-Bay. Maybe we'll throw in the Pacer.

  • Modifications Happen

    Mar 13, 2013 at 12:00am

    Modifications Happen

    If Quick Tips were to produce a line of IRB bumper stickers, this one might sell like hotcakes.

    Every researcher knows that the initial research procedures don't always work out exactly as planned. And to facilitate the needed changes we have the Modification Form to help you explain the changes to the IRB.

    But don’t forget, just because you’ve sent your modification request to HSD doesn’t mean that it’s been approved! Wait to hear back from us before you change anything. (Unless the changes are necessary to eliminate immediate serious risks to the subjects, of course.)

    Maybe a better bumper sticker would be:

    Modification Approved at IRB

    Even if it doesn't fit on your car, it's still the way to go!

  • Dropping a Research Procedure

    Feb 1, 2013 at 12:00am

    Dear Quick Tips,

    I received IRB approval 4 months ago for my dissertation research. I'm studying stress and study habits in Introductory Psych students. One part of my research involved having the students take a survey at the beginning and end of the quarter.

    I ought to be a subject in my own study! I've tried everything but I just can't get seem to get the SurveyMonkey website to show the survey correctly. So I'm giving up on the survey part of my study. Rather than bother your office with a Modification, I'm going to just drop the survey.

    Sad SurveyMonkey


    Dear Sad,

    Please DO send us a Modification! We really need to prospectively review and approve the removal of ANY research procedure or group of subjects (except when necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to subjects). I can tell that dropping the survey will benefit you (and your stress levels), but our review needs to look at whether the removal changes the risk/benefit analysis of your research.

    Quick Tips

  • Washington State IRB

    Jan 3, 2013 at 12:00am

    The UW IRB is the only IRB for me!  Go Huskies!

    Hmm, not so fast...

    Quick Tips knows that the University of Washington is like a city, with just about every service imaginable, including Quick Tips' home, the UW's Institutional Review Board (IRB). (If there was a comfy cot, Quick Tips might never leave the UW Tower.) But there are some research activities that need to be reviewed by a different IRB instead of the UW IRB.

    The Washington State IRB (WSIRB) reviews research activities that are:

    • Sponsored by the Washington State Department of Social Health Services (DSHS), Department of Health (DOH), or Department of Labor & Industry (L&I);
    • Conducted by an employee of agent of DSHS, DOH, or L&I;
    • Using any DSHS or DOH property or facility;
    • Using DSHS, DOH or L&I non-public information to identify or contact human research subjects or prospective subjects; or
    • Using non-public identifiable records or specimens from DSHS, DOH, or L&I.
    The University of Washington has a cooperative agreement with the WSIRB, where we rely on their IRB review of research that involves any of their records, properties, facilities, employees or agents.  If the funding is coming through the UW, but the research involves one of the above agencies, the review should be performed by the WSIRB instead of the UW IRB.

    Examples of DSHS records include:
    • Medicaid
    • Child welfare, foster care (CAMIS)
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANIF)
    Examples of DOH records include:
    • Trauma registry (WSTR)
    • Cancer registry (WSCR)
    • Birth records
    If you want to interview mothers of special needs children under the age of five, link birth records to the state cancer registry to evaluate childbearing after a cancer diagnosis, or use DUI assessments from a DSHS contractor to study severity of alcohol abuse, all these things would be under the jurisdiction of the WSIRB.

    When you submit an IRB application to WSIRB, don't forget to use their forms (not the UW forms) and don't forget to include WSIRB's "Appendix E" form which requires a signature from HSD.  This authorizes WSIRB to do the review instead of the UW IRB.  Questions? Email hsdinfo@uw.edu.

    So get off campus and visit WSIRB on the web at: http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/rda/hrrs/default.shtm

  • How to use the new form: Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data

    Nov 30, 2012 at 12:00am

    HSD has officially released the new form and guidance the Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data. The form and guidance pertain to using identifiable data and/or specimens for research.  This application replaces the Medical Records Review form.

    Last eNews we talked about when to use the new form - this time, let's look at how to use the PDF smart form.

    The PDF is intended to guide you through the questions, hiding the questions that you don't need to answer, and revealing follow-up questions that you do.  This will save everyone time in skipping over empty boxes, and maybe save a few trees along the way.

    Quick Tips is well aware that in some cases, the form is used as a communication tool between research coordinators, and researchers to fine tune their application, and make sure all the questions are answered appropriately. Word may have an advantage in "Track Changes," but PDF can accept comments.  The comment tools will take you back to the days when you turned in a paper and got it back full of red pen and sticky notes! (Or maybe that was just me...)

    Here's how you do it:

    • Flatten the document by selecting "Print" and changing the printer to Adobe PDF.  You will want to save this flattened version with a different name if you are not done with the original form, as flattening is just like printing it to a piece of paper.  The fields will no longer be editable.
    • You will now be able to make all kinds of comments on the form using the commenting tools.
    • If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, you could even experiment with shared reviews, collaborating live, and track reviews.

    See the Adobe website for more information: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat.html.

    Before you say "Hey, is this just some Adobe endorsement?", know that Quick Tips finds somethings about PDF frustrating as well.  That's why we'll also be putting our a Word version of the Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data form.

    So check it out, and send Quick Tips an email if you find new and exciting ways to collaborate with PDF. We'd love to share them with the research community.

  • When to use the new form: Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data

    Oct 11, 2012 at 12:00am

    HSD recently posted the beta-test version of the new form and guidance the Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data. The form and guidance pertain to using identifiable data and/or specimens for research. This application will replace the Medical Records Review form.

    It seems like a good time to explore when to use this form. Let's see if Quick Tips can answer some questions.

    What's the difference between the regular Human Subjects Application and the Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data form?

    The form addresses research which does not include direct interaction with people; therefore, the form does not address recruitment or consent. So it follows that you will always need to complete a Waiver Request: Consent or Consent Requirements form along with this one (and when appropriate, a Waiver Request: HIPAA Authorization. See part 8 of the guidance for more detailed information.)

    So why not just fill out the regular form and state that I'm not interacting with subjects?

    The regular form asks questions that are irrelevant to research involving only analysis of specimens and/or data, and may drive you a bit nuts.

    When would I use this form?

    Examples include: medical records; protected health information (PHI); employment data; study records; pathology specimens; data and/or specimens from a repository.

    What do you mean by identifiable?

    In brief, according to federal regulations, it means that the identity of an individual is or may be readily (1) ascertained by the investigator or any other member of the study team, or (2) associated with the information. Quick Tips recommends reading the Use of Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data Guidance for more detailed information.

    Okay, I'm convinced, this new form sounds great. When wouldn't I use it?

    Well, if you are going to interact or intervene with subjects in any way, or if you plan to follow up with subjects whose data are being reviewed, you would complete the Human Subjects Review Application. If your data is anonymous, or coded (and no one involved with the current research will have access to the key to the code), it may be appropriate to fill out the Use of Non-Identifiable Biological Specimens/Data form if you need a determination that IRB review is not required. If you are creating a registry or repository, don't use this form. Also, if you plan to obtain information not in records at this time, this form may not be appropriate. In those instances, it would be best to check with HSD before you complete the application.

    Quick Tips did okay (I wouldn't trust Quick Tips with my identifiable data), but if you have any other questions about this form that aren't answered in the form itself, or the guidance, please email hsdinfo@uw.edu, or call the Human Subjects Division at 543-0098.

  • Registry and Repository

    Aug 12, 2012 at 12:00am

    Have you ever wondered why HSD refers to a collection of data sometimes as a "Registry" and sometimes as a "Repository?"

    A registry refers to a list of names and contact information of people who are willing to be contacted about research related to a specific topic. A registry might include information that would assist in selecting candidates appropriate to recruit for a specific study.

    A repository is a collection of data, samples or both made available to researchers for analyses intended to answer various research questions.

    A repository could also be used for recruitment purposes IF the subjects whose data are in the repository have given permission for that specific purpose.

    However, a repository does not intrinsically or automatically provide for recruitment into other studies. A "dual use" must be specified in the Repository Application.

    More information is available on our website.

  • UW-GS 7 - not just another HSD term...

    Jun 22, 2012 at 12:00am

    The IRB and the Human Subjects Division have all sorts of advice, guidance and directives on how to handle your human subjects data while you are conducting your research, but there is another UW department that is concerned about what you are doing with all those records and paperwork once the study is closed.

    UW Records Management

    Take a quick trip through the retention schedule for research documents at: http://f2.washington.edu/fm/recmgt/retentionschedules/gs/general/uwgs7 and you'll see that there is an entire records retention schedule just for records associated with research, grants and contracts - UW-GS 7.

    These retention schedules are established by Washington State Law (RCW 40.14).

    Records Retention and Research Data

    Keep in mind that for different types of research data, there are different retention schedules.  For example, research data from a study that was determined to be "Exempt" needs to be kept for 6 years after the close of the study.  Other types of data may need to be kept longer.  Up to 30 years for some!

    Records Retention and the Consent Form

    The key to developing an accurate retention statement for the consent form is to state how long the data will remain identifiable.  There are no requirements to state how long the data will actually be kept, but you do need to state for how long the data will be linked to the identities of the subjects.

    The IRB also wants to make sure that you don't make any promises in your consent form documents that you cannot keep - such as, "We are going to shred this consent form as soon as the study is over." Consent forms also have a retention schedule.  For example, consent forms for biomedical treatment or intervention studies need to be retained for 30 years after the close of the study.

    Don't hesitate to contact Records Management for more information: urc@uw.edu, or visit their website.  They have lots of great advice, a cool instructional video, and order numbers for those Office Depot boxes you might need!

    Some of the Human Subjects related documents that have official records retention schedules are:

    • Certificate of Exemption (now referred to as: Exempt Status Determination)
    • Clinical Trials Phase I-IV Research Data - Investigator
    • Consent Forms for Research - Biomedical Treatment or Intervention
    • Consent Forms for Research - Adults
    • Consent Forms for Research - Minors
    • Data Collection Form
    • Human Subjects Review Committee Applications - Approved
    • Human Subjects Review Committee Applications - Denied
    • Human Subjects Review Committee Applications - Withdrawn
    • Registry Consent Forms
    • Repository Consent Forms
    • Research Data - Biomedical Treatment or Intervention (Drug, Device or Surgical Procedure/Intervention)
    • Research Data - Drug Development
    • Research Data - Non-Biomedical Treatment or Intervention (Non Drug, Device or Surgical Procedure/Intervention)
    • Research Data - Sponsor Required Contractual Obligation
    • Research Data - Exempt from Human Subjects Review

  • Exempt?

    Apr 13, 2012 at 12:00am

    Exempt is another one of those terms that has a different meaning in connection with human subjects research than you might expect. (Recall how "expedited" doesn't mean quicker in the IRB world.)

    It is often thought that "exempt" means that the research activity does not involve human subjects. This is not the case. Exempt, in regulatory speak, means that the activity involves human subjects, however, because it is no more than minimal risk and fits into one or more of the six specific categories of research defined by the federal Office of Human Research Protections or OHRP (affectionately pronounced "O-Harp") it is "exempt from the regulations." An exempt determination is a specific determination that is made only by the Human Subjects Division (HSD). Take a look at either the regulations themselves, or HSD's well written and easy to read Exempt Status Request Guidance document to learn more about the six categories.

    While you're reading that guidance, Quick Tips is going to consult the Exempt Magic Eight Ball to clear up some misconceptions about Exempt Research:

    eight ballCan I use deception in Exempt research, as long as the risk is minimal and I debrief the participants afterwards?

    "My reply is no." Deception studies that intentionally provide misleading or false information are not eligible for Exempt status. One example: Participants complete a quiz and are falsely told that they did poorly, regardless of performance.This is no longer true, see HSD's revised SOP Exempt Determination for details on how projects that involve deception can be eligible for exempt status

    eight ballDoes a determination of "Exempt" mean that I have IRB approval?

    "Outlook not so good." Exemption is a determination by the staff of HSD that the research is exempt from review by the IRB. However, keep in mind that researchers still have a responsibility to protect the rights and welfare of their subjects, and are expected to conduct their research in accordance with ethical principles, as well as state and local institutional policy.

    eight ballExempt means it's not Human Subjects Research, right?

    "My sources say no." If a research project involves humans (see the definition of a human subject on the HSD website) it is still human subjects research, even if it is minimal risk, and falls under one of the six categories of exemption.

    eight ballI've heard that I can determine whether my research is exempt.

    "Don't count on it." The staff of the Human Subjects Division are the only individuals authorized at the UW to determine whether the research activity is exempt from federal regulations. The UW applies the federal regulations and guidance about exemption to all human subjects research, regardless of funding, or funding source.

    eight ballSo, if my research is "exempt," I don't have to do anything?

    "Very doubtful." You must complete the form "Initial Application: Exempt Status Request" either in Word or PDF. Then, send it to the HSD office to request a determination of "Exempt." Think of "Exempt" as a status that is determined by HSD, according to the specific federal regulations governing human subjects protections. The everyday usage of the word exempt does not really apply.

    Hmm, the Exempt Magic Eight Ball is on a negative streak today. Let's refrain from asking it about the lottery.

  • Student Research?

    Mar 16, 2012 at 12:00am

    In our February issue, Quick Tips discussed student research projects involving human subjects that do not need to go through the HSD/IRB process.  Now we'll talk about student research that DOES need HSD/IRB review.

    A student researcher recently visited HSD Quick Tips with a timely request.  She waved around an inch-thick document while she tried to catch her breath.

            "Help! This is my master's thesis proposal.  My best friend is in my department and she told me that she didn't need to go through the HSD/IRB process for her thesis project.  So I thought I didn't have to either.  But my faculty advisor just told me that he thinks I do need IRB review."

          "Now I'm really worried, and I'm so confused!  He told me I have to figure it out before I present my proposal to my thesis committee tomorrow!"

          "Don't worry," Quick Tips replied, "we can figure it our right now.  There are just a few key things involved.  Why don't you start by giving me an overview of your project?"

    The student began describing her intent to administer surveys to parents of third grade students at a local school in an effort to show that reading to their children each night raises their overall achievement scores.  Then she started describing the statistical methods she planned to use...

          "That's fine, thanks." Quick Tips interrupted. "The key issue for most student projects is the intent of the project.  Specifically, are the results intended to be generalizable?  Almost all thesis and dissertation projects are intended to be generalizable.  I bet your friend's project was one of the rare exceptions."

    The federal and University definition of human subjects research is based on a couple of key concepts.  one of them is that the project is "designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge." This is quite different from what we talked about last month, where the student was practicing skills as apart of a class project, research practicum, or internship.  The student does need to submit an application to HSD for review and approval when a student is not just practicing skills, but is actually designing and implementing a research project with the intent to apply the results more broadly beyond the individuals studies or beyond a specific time and/or location, such as to other settings, circumstances, or categories.  This includes almost all independent undergraduate research projects and honor theses, masters these and doctoral dissertations, because they are almost always intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge.

    HSD and/or the IRB will review the application and:

    • Approve it (though some changes may be required first), or
    • Determine that the project is "exempt" from the regulations, or
    • Determine that it is not human subjects research based on the complete definition.

    The student researcher was right to come to HSD with her question.  Now let's hope she convinced her committee members about those statistical methods...

  • Classroom Research Project?

    Feb 21, 2012 at 12:00am

    Dear HSD Quick Tips,

    I recently took a research methods class in which we were broken up into groups, asked to choose a population, then design and conduct interviews with these people.  We than had a big presentation at the end of the quarter.

    Why didn't our instructor have us submit anything to the HSD office?  I thought you were supposed to look at all human subjects research?


    Student Researcher


    Dear Student Researcher,

    Your instructor was right.  Your project didn't need to come to our office.  The key is the term "human subjects research."

    HSD (and the Institutional Review Boards it supports) is responsible for reviewing research with human subjects as defined by federal regulations.  These regulations (45 CFR 46.102) define research as a "systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge."  "Designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge" means that the project is designed to produce results that can be validly applied more broadly beyond the individuals studies or beyond a specific time and/or locations, such as to other settings, circumstances, or categories.

    As you can see, this says nothing about publishing or presenting.  A project can be designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge, and thus constitute research, even if the results are never published.  At the same time, many things are published (biographies, for example) that aren't designed to be generalizable.

    The purpose of your class project (and other projects such as practica and internships) was not so much to add to the larger body of general knowledge, but to teach you about research methods, and give you the opportunity to practice these skills.  In other words, your class projects did not meet the federal definition of the kind of research that requires review. That's hwy they did not need to come to our office.

    Your instructor should still work with you to ensure that your projects adhere to the ethical standards of your field, and to relevant laws and regulations.

    Next time, we'll visit when student research DOES need to come to HSD.

  • Expedited Review

    Jan 10, 2012 at 12:00am

    I'm in a hurry, so I want to choose Expedited Review, right?

    Maybe not!

    Expedited review is a review process defined by the federal regulations that allows for a research study to be reviewed by the IRB committee chair, or by one or more review members designated by the chair, rather than the full convened IRB.  Despite its name, expedited review is not necessarily quicker than review by a full IRB committee.  The most important factor for efficient review is the researcher providing complete and accurate information within the application.

    Okay, so it's not necessarily quicker.  What qualifies for Expedited Review?

    The UW Human Subjects Division uses Expedited Review interchangeably with Minimal Risk Review because to qualify for expedited review, a study must first meet the regulatory definition of Minimal Risk: "...the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests."

    In addition to being no more than minimal risk, all study procedures must fall into one or more of the research categories in this regulatory list: http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/policy/expedited98.html.  If the procedures do not fit into this list, the study cannot receive expedited review even if it is no more than minimal risk.

    Got it, but I'm always sending in the wrong number of copies. What's up with that?

    Because of differences in filing systems between the minimal risk teams and the full committee teams at HSD, new applications for expedited review should be submitted as two copies only - not the three copies required for new full-IRB applications.  You should also send in two copies of modifications and status reports.

    Sometimes a study under full IRB review can have expedited review of its modifications and status reports, performed by the staff of the full IRB.  If your study was initially reviewed and approved by a full IRB, all modifications and status reports must be submitted in three copies.  The review team will decide whether a given modification or status report requires full-IRB review or is expeditable.