A-Z Index

Types of IRB Review

All projects must submit the Northwest IRB Application regardless of the level of review being conducted. In the past, separate application documents were used for different levels of IRB review. These documents are no longer accepted for review.

Levels of Review

OHRP has outlined three levels of IRB review: exempt, expedited, and full review. The levels of review are differentiated based on their level of risk to subjects as well as the type of research being conducted.

Both exempt and expedited research are defined as research that is of no more than minimal risk to subjects. This is the most important consideration for both exempt and expedited research, meaning that a project with more than minimal risk does not qualify for these levels of review even if your project falls under the exempt or expedited categories.

Assuming your project is no more than minimal risk, the primary difference between exempt and expedited research is the type of research being conducted. In both cases, OHRP has determined several categories of research that are considered exempt and expedited; the level of review required for a project of no more than minimal risk is thus determined by the category your project fits within.

To determine whether your project should be submitted for consideration as exempt or expedited, review the Exempt and Expedited Categories section of the Northwest IRB website. If you are still unsure, contact the Northwest IRB ( for clarification.

If your project does not fall under any of the exempt or expedited categories, or if your project is of more than minimal risk to subjects, then you must undergo a full review. There are no particular categories under which a full review project must fall under; rather, the focus is on ensuring that the risk to subjects in your project is minimized as much as possible, that all ethical protocols are being followed, and that the benefits that may be obtained from your project outweigh the harm it may cause to subjects.