Created May 19, 2020 (never revised).


This policy applies to all requests to use Emerson College staff and students as research subjects, including requests to answer questionnaires. It does not apply to research being done for internal institutional purposes, which should be coordinated through the michael_duggan [at] (AVP for Institutional Research). This policy is designed to protect against:

  • Undue pressure to participate because the research is conducted by or is connected to faculty members with academic or working relationships to subjects.
  • The use of extra or academic credit for participation in research projects that is offered without alternative for students who do not wish to participate.
  • Research that might allow individuals to gain access to research data and thus to personal information about subjects.



Internal parties (faculty and staff) should discuss research projects with their immediate chair or manager. Institutional Review Board (IRB) application forms should indicate whether it is anticipated that Emerson students or employees will be enrolled as participants.


Requests from external parties to use students as research subjects should be directed to the Co-Chairs of the IRB and will be approved if:

  • the College is one of a number of participating post secondary institutions, and the research is being used to gain an overall understanding of post-secondary educational processes, OR
  • the College has a specific interest in the research.

In general, an investigator should not directly solicit participation in a research project from any Emerson student or staff who the investigator teaches or supervises, regardless of the level of risk. Any exceptions to this rule would require approval of the full IRB.  Students or staff who submit their names to a research study may be directly contacted by phone or email if neither the recruiter, nor the investigator supervises the student academically.

Research involving Emerson students under the age of 18 is subject to the same regulations and guidance as all research involving minors. Any and all investigators must ensure that any potential student-participants who are minors are identified and their enrollment complies with these regulations.


Within a class or course, the use of extra credit incentives for Emerson student participation is permissible provided students who do not wish to participate are offered non-research alternatives for equivalent extra credit. Alternatives must not entail more time, effort, or stress on the part of the student than the research activity.

Risks to Students

Confidentiality – Investigators must provide the IRB with specific plans for ensuring that the privacy of participating subjects will be respected.

Coercion – Investigators must ensure that steps are taken to avoid any implication of coercion.


If the request is coming from a non-Emerson affiliated individual or organization, you must submit a copy of the approved IRB from your affiliated organization to Emerson’s IRB.

Emerson’s IRB will review all applications that propose to use Emerson employees or students as research subjects, paying particular attention to merits, methods and incentives and will notify the investigator of their decision on a case by case basis.