Gettysburg College faculty and students are committed to advancing knowledge within their respective academic disciplines. In order to accomplish this goal most effectively, the college community believes that adherence to strict ethical norms is essential. Values such as honesty, respect for the rights and dignity of human beings, and the humane treatment of animals are not only important for living an ethical life but are among the values that underlie excellent research. However, ethical decisions may often be complex when weighing the common good with the integrity of the study and so the College has established the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that Gettysburg faculty and students have considered all relevant ethical issues when designing and conducting their research.
The Gettysburg College IRB is committed to protecting the rights and welfare of all persons who participate as subjects in projects that may be conducted under its auspices. This includes ensuring that research subjects are fully aware of their rights and of the protections available to them. Further, the IRB is responsible for ascertaining that there is a balance between the potential long-term knowledge gained from any proposed research and any potential risk to the research subjects participating in it.
The two most important documents that guide IRB policies and procedures are the Belmont Report and The Common Rule. The Belmont Report details the ethical principles of (a) Respect for Persons, (b) Beneficence, and (c) Justice, while the Common Rule contains policies that IRBs must follow with regard to such things as organizational structure, documentation, and enforcement. One of the primary ways that IRBs fulfill their mission is by reviewing ongoing research to ensure that it complies with commonly accepted practices and standards as outlined in these two documents.
The Gettysburg College Institutional Review Board reports directly to the Provost who has charged the IRB with the following responsibilities:
- Periodic review of guidelines for conducting research involving humans at Gettysburg College and recommendations for changes
- Education of the community regarding legal requirements and ethics for conducting such research
- Review of requests from outside agencies for research on campus
- Review of research funded by the Federal Government
- Review of research proposals by Gettysburg faculty, students, staff, and college committees
- Consultation with those engaged in on-campus research as needed
- Monitor the information provided to research participants to ensure their informed consent
- Consultation with members of the community who might have complaints or concerns about on-campus research involving human participants
- Ensure that Gettysburg students involved in assisting Gettysburg faculty in NSF-funded research complete training in the responsible conduct of research.