Use of Human Subjects

Use of Human Subjects

Students who plan to use human subjects in your research need to be aware that there are federal laws to protect those subjects. Legal requirements to protect human subjects apply to a much broader range of research than many investigators realize. In addition to covering traditional biomedical studies, legal obligations to protect human subjects also apply, for example, to research that uses:

  • Human beings to test devices products or materials that have been developed through research.
  • Data collected through intervention or interaction with individuals. Intervention includes not only physical procedures (such as drawing blood), but also manipulation of a subject’s environment.
  • Private information that can be readily identified with individuals, even if the information was not collected specifically for the study in question.
  • Studies conducted to gain generalizable knowledge about categories or classes of subjects such as Department of Education workers.
  • Human beings to evaluate environmental alterations, for example, on weatherization options or habitat modifications.

Students who plan to use human subjects in any way MUST discuss this issue with your project supervisor, committee chair or adviser. The associate deans for undergraduate and graduate studies or personnel in the MU Office of Research, 316 Jesse Hall, can questions about how the rules apply to a student’s research. If it is deemed necessary for the student to apply for approval of the research proposal involving human subjects, a copy of that application and ultimate approval must be given to the academic adviser in the journalism graduate studies center. All of the necessary forms and instructions for IRB requests can be found on the Research at MU website.