Introduction and Governance

As mandated by federal regulation, Bergen Community College (BCC) maintains an Institutional Review Board (IRB), charged with assuring that human subjects participating in research studies at BCC are protected to the full extent of the law. The IRB reviews proposed research protocol, methods, and materials to ensure they are consistent with regulation and that they include procedures that protect the well-being and rights of those who participate.

BCC IRB efforts, in this regard, are governed by the US Department of Health and Human Services Human Protections, as codified in 45 CFR, Part 46, Subpart E and by The National Science Foundation Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects.

Ethical Principles

Bergen’s IRB is guided by the three fundamental ethical principles stated in the Belmont Report. Researchers should read the report to understand the ethical guidelines for research on human subjects. The ethical principles espoused by the report guide treatment of any human subjects used in research, They are:

  1. Respect for persons: protecting the autonomy of all people and treating them with courtesy and respect and allowing for informed consent. Researchers must be truthful and conduct no deception;
  2. Beneficence: The philosophy of “Do no harm” while maximizing benefits for the research project and minimizing risks to the research subjects; and
  3. Justice: ensuring reasonable, non-exploitative, and well-considered procedures are administered fairly — the fair distribution of costs and benefits to potential research participants — and equally.

Types of Research

Human Subjects Research falls under three categories: (1) Exempt, (2) Eligible for Expedited review, and (3) Requiring Full Review.

EXEMPT: Research such as anonymous surveys that evaluate teaching and learning effectiveness only are exempt. Most research conducted at Bergen is exempt according to 45 CFR 46.101(b) 1 and 2:

  1. Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as (a) research on regular and special education instructional strategies or (b) research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula or classroom management methods.
  2. Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of public behavior, so long as: a. information obtained is recorded in such a manner that subjects CANNOT be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects and b. there is NO disclosure of the human subjects’ responses.

If your research falls into these categories, you do not need IRB approval.

However, if the survey asks questions of a personal nature such as sexual orientation, weight, marital status, etc., or would collect information that would identify the individual, it is no longer considered exempt and must be submitted to the IRB. If you have questions regarding the status of your research you should submit for IRB approval and you will be advised if it is exempt.

EXPEDITED REVIEW: Proposals that clearly adhere to the federal guidelines for conducting research on human subjects, i.e. which contain provision for confidentiality and do not involve novel or intrusive subjects, must be submitted to the IRB by filling out the application form, available through the Office of Grants Administration. If eligible for expedited review, these will be approved by the IRB Chair generally within a week of submission.

FULL REVIEW: If the research entails the collection of intrusive and/or personal information or could possibly compromises the confidentiality of the participant, the study must be reviewed by the Full IRB.

BCC Faculty or Staff Sponsorship is Required

All research conducted at BCC must be carried out under the supervision of a BCC faculty (tenured or tenure track) or staff member, and have the approval of the Dean or Vice President under which the BCC supervisor works. Researchers from other institutions seeking to conduct research at BCC must collaborate with a BCC sponsor whose responsibility it is to ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with the approval conditions of the BCC IRB and that all reports are submitted in a timely manner.

Get Started

If your research meets the conditions noted above in 45 CFR 46.101(b) 1 and 2, you do not need IRB approval. If you need to file an application with the IRB, you should download the IRB Application  and complete all requested information, obtain required signatures, and email a PDF of the signed application to: Chair of the IRB, C/O: Jeannette Lim.

Within two weeks of submission you will be advised of how you will be classified (exempt, expedited or full review required). After you have received approval for expedited or full review, you will receive a letter of approval that will contain the terms under which you may conduct your research and dates by which you may start and complete your research. Once the research is completed, you must submit a final report with data to the college. Be aware that compliance with the terms of the approval lies with the sponsoring BCC faculty or staff member.