Use of Human Subjects

According to the Code of Virginia (Title 37.1-234 through 238) human research is defined as “any…investigation designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge and which utilizes human subjects who may be exposed to the possibility of physical or psychological injury as a consequence of participation as subjects…”

A researcher desiring to apply for a grant that will use human subjects in its research, must contact Dr. Holly Schiffrin, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Chair of the Institutional Review Board.  It is the policy of the institution that, prior to initiation, all research activities by faculty, students, or employees that involve the use of human subjects (i.e., individuals about whom data or information is obtained) be approved by the Institutional Review Board or be certified exempt from review. Failure to gain committee approval prior to collecting data can result in a forfeiture of data or other penalties.

Project directors are also required to comply with the terms and procedures of the UMW policy on the use of human subjects. The complete policy and the necessary forms are available at:

The policy describes the UMW Institutional Review Board, which serves to ensure that participants in research are treated fairly and ethically. Research projects conducted by members of the UMW community that involve human participants must be submitted to the review board for approval unless it meets the criteria for exempt status (as detailed in the UMW policy). The review process must be completed before a grant proposal is approved for submission.

UMW has a federally-registered IRB; the IRB number is 00008306.  The IRB received Federal-wide Assurance (FWA) on June 14, 2011.  Through the receipt of FWA, UMW has committed to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that it will comply with the requirements in the HHS Protection of Human Subjects regulations at 45 CFR part 46.  FWA is the only type of assurance currently accepted and approved by the Office of Human Research Protections.  UMW’s FWA number is FWA00017476.