Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

CTS Library

Online Application

After carefully reading the policy statement below, you may make an application for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for your research involving human subjects. This online form is automatically forwarded to the IRB convener, Dr. Scott Seay, who will follow this policy in evaluating your proposal. The convener will be in touch about next steps using the contact information that you provide in this application. If you have questions, please reach out to Dr. Seay directly at sseay@cts.edu or (317) 931-2347. Thank you!

General Policy Statement

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) is committed to safeguarding the welfare, rights, and privacy of all persons who participate as subjects in research conducted by its faculty, staff, and students.  Moreover, the seminary is committed to ensuring that the subjects of such research are aware of their rights and the protections available to them. 

The safeguards derive from the following ethical principles:

  • Respect for persons: researchers must recognize and respect the personal dignity and autonomy of the subjects of their research.  Human subjects should enter into the research voluntarily and with full awareness of the potential consequences of their participation.  Special care must be given to respect the rights of persons with diminished autonomy or particular vulnerabilities.
  • Beneficence: researchers must protect their subjects from harm by maximizing benefits and minimizing possible risks.  Possible risks must be weighed against possible benefits, both to the subjects themselves and to the research in which they are participating.
  • Justice: researchers must distribute fairly the benefits and burdens of the research.  In selecting their human subjects, researchers must ensure that no group is either consistently selected to participate or consistently denied the opportunity to do so.

First articulated in 1979 in the so-called “Belmont Report,” these ethical principles were soon adopted as policy by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services in Title 45, Part 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46) and published in amended form in the Federal Register on June 18, 1991.

Institutional Review Board

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the body charged with reviewing all research involving human subjects to ensure that the above policy statement is enforced.  Researchers must receive the approval of the IRB before beginning their research. 

Research that is subject to IRB review and approval include—but is not limited to—pilot studies, class assignments, capstone projects, masters- and doctoral-level thesis work, and independent research, whether the research is conducted on or off-campus.

The IRB at CTS is convened by the Director of the Doctor of Ministry degree program.  Its members include the convener, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty (ex officio), and two CTS faculty members (ordinarily one licensed in clinical work).

The IRB will set and publish on the seminary's master calendar two meeting dates each semester during which they will review all research proposals presented to it.  At the discretion of the IRB convener, additional meeting dates may be set.

Overview of the Review Process

The IRB review process ordinarily follows three steps:

  1. Application: researchers initiate the review process by submitting a “Request for Approval of Research Involving Human Subjects” form to the convener of the IRB.  He or she will serve as an initial reviewer of the request, or may designated another member of the IRB to be an initial reviewer.

  1. Review: the initial reviewer will assign the Request to one of three levels:  Level I: Exempt (no foreseeable risk); Level II: Expedited Review (minimal potential for risk); or Level III: Full Board Review (more than minimal potential risk and/or subjects with diminished autonomy or particular vulnerabilities).   If the initial reviewer determines that the research involves at least minimal potential for risk to the subjects, he or she will send the request to a second reviewer assigned to the IRB.  The two reviewers will then consult to determine whether a review by the full IRB is warranted.  Research that involves subjects with diminished autonomy or particular vulnerabilities automatically require review by the full IRB.

  1. Outcome: the initial reviewer(s) or the full IRB will assign one of the following outcomes to the researcher’s request:

    • Approved: no revisions to the Request is needed, and the researcher may begin his or her work
    • Approved with Changes: the researcher may begin his or her work after the IRB convener receives a Request with revisions required by the review process
    • Re-submit: the researcher must make significant revisions to the Request and re-submit his or her request for IRB review
    • Denied: the proposed research cannot be completed because of potential risk to the subjects.

“Approval” may be granted by the initial reviewer(s).  All Requests reviewed by the full IRB must receive unanimous approval by all members.

Criteria for Assigning Levels in the Review Process

In assigning levels to the research request, the reviewer(s) must apply the following criteria to determine the potential risk to the human subjects:

Level I

Exempt

Level II

Expedited

Level II

Full Board

Does the research involve subjects with diminished autonomy or particular vulnerabilities?

No

No

Yes

Does the research involve the collection or recording of behavior which, if known outside the research, could reasonably place subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subject’s financial standing, employability, or reputation?

No

No

Yes

Does the research involve the collection of information regarding sensitive aspects of subjects’ behavior (e.g., drug or alcohol use, illegal conduct, sexual behavior)?

No

No

Yes

Does the research involve subjects under age 18?

No

No

Yes

Does the research does involve deception?

No

No

Yes

Does the research present more than minimal risk to the subject? (Minimal risk means that the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the proposed research are not greater than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.) 

No

Yes

Yes

Does the research does require a waiver from informed consent procedures?

No

Yes

Yes

Components of Informed Consent

Human subjects in research must have sufficient information to make an informed decision to participate in the research study.  If they cannot give informed consent, it must be obtained from their legal representatives (e.g. minors, mentally or cognitively incapacitated).  Consent requests must be either clearly written or orally conveyed in a manner understandable to subjects, using language that is non-technical.  All scientific, technical, or medical terminology must be plainly defined.

Some research requires the use of mailed or e-mailed questionnaires.  In such cases, a mailed or e-mailed response will itself be regarded as evidence of informed consent, provided that the questionnaire clearly explains the purpose and nature of the research.

Appeals

If a Request is denied because the IRB determines that the risks outweigh the benefits of the research, and the researcher disagrees with the committee’s decision, the researcher may appeal the decision by re-submitting the following: (1) the original Request form; (2) a letter of appeal detailing the researcher’s arguments for approval; and (3) any other pertinent information in support of the appeal.

The appeal should be directed to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty for his or her review.  Applications submitted for appeal will be considered by the full IRB—including the dean—at the next scheduled meeting date.  The final decision of the IRB will be stated in writing to the researcher. If the appeal is denied, the research cannot be conducted.

Downloadable Policy and Sample Consent Forms

© 2018 Christian Theological Seminary