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Human Subjects

When conducting research involving human subjects, students must follow policies of the UW Human Subjects Division (HSD) to protect human subjects' rights, well-being, and personal privacy, to assure a favorable climate for the conduct of scientific inquiry, and to protect the interests of the University of Washington. All students should check with the HSD to determine whether or not their projects, theses, dissertations, or other work require approval.

Student investigators will be required to have a signed copy of their thesis proposal on file before application for human subjects review. A checklist to assist students in preparing a consent form and/or cover letter to Human Subjects is available from Student and Academic Services in Room T-301.


Misconceptions about the need for HSD Review:

"I don't need to go through Human Subjects review because..."

  • I'm not planning to publish my data.
  • Someone else (at another location) is collecting the data.
  • I'm doing my research somewhere else (another university/city/state/country).
  • I'm in a program at the UW Tacoma or UW Bothell branch campus.
  • I'm planning to use data that has already been collected by someone else.
  • I'm using publicly available data.
  • I don't have any funding to pay for my research (or I'm paying for it myself).
  • There is no risk of physical harm to the subjects in my research.
  • I'm not associated with the medical school.
  • It doesn't apply to my department or academic area.
  • No one else in my cohort does it.
  • I'm interviewing my friends and family.
  • All of the data I'm collecting will be anonymous.
  • I'm doing an anonymous web-based or email questionnaire. If people don't want to respond, they don't have to.
  • The people I'm studying won't know they are in a research study.
  • I'm already planning to ask people for permission to interview or observe them.
  • The research method I'm using doesn't need to be reviewed (oral history, ethnography, etc.), or the professional organization for my academic discipline says that our type of work doesn't need to be reviewed.

If you believe that your research is exempt from review for one of the reasons above, think again! Check the HSD website for more information, and to make sure that you have the approvals that you need.