University of Hawai‘i
Research Compliance


Submitting an Application

1. I developed my own research protocol and it is not funded by an outside party. Do I still need permission from the IRB before I conduct my research?

As required by law, the University of Hawai‘i follow government regulations on the protection of research subjects. These regulations apply to all research performed by UH faculty, staff or students or that meets the requirement for engagement of UH as a research institution. For help in determining whether your research requires IRB approval and oversight, and to determine the level of review, see the Resources page for more information.

2. Does research conducted by UH students require IRB approval?

By UH policy, masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations that involve human subjects or use private identifiable information about living humans require IRB approval before research activities can be initiated. Graduate students who are unsure whether their project would be deemed human subjects research may inquire with the Human Studies Program Office for guidance. Documentation of approval by an IRB, or the Human Studies Program office is necessary to fulfill the paperwork required by the Office of Graduate Education to register for the thesis or dissertation courses (700 or 800 series) where the student indicates on Form II that Institutional Review Board (RB) approval may be required.

Other graduate-level work and most undergraduate activities performed to meet class requirements typically do not require IRB approval. However, if the research will be published or presented in a public forum, the study will require prior approval. Again, students should contact the Human Studies Program if unsure whether the activities would be considered human subjects research.

3. Can researchers who have no formal affiliation with UH submit applications to a UH IRB?

In general, researchers who have no formal affiliation with UH cannot submit applications to the Human Studies Program or a UH IRB. If a UH-affiliated researcher is included on the study as a co-investigator, the Human Studies Program is likely to agree to review the research project. In this case, the UH-affiliated investigator (administrative Principal Investigator) will be the contact person with the UH IRB.

UH has formal agreements in place with a few unaffiliated institutions, under which research that does not involve UH can be reviewed by a UH IRB. See the Institutional Review Board page for more information.

4. I am affiliated with UH, but my research project requires approval by another institution's IRB. Do I also need approval by the UH IRB?

For most research, yes, UH affiliated researchers need IRB approval from UH, as well as any other involved institutions. In limited circumstances, UH will accept human subjects approval and oversight by a non-UH IRB. For example, UH has an agreement with The Queen’s Medical Center IRB intended to eliminate duplicate IRB review of must-research projects. See the Institutional Review Board page for more information about our existing agreements. Contact the Human Studies Program Director for more details.

5. Aren't some research "exempt" from IRB approval?

Yes, there are two types of human subjects research: Exempt and Non-Exempt. These categories are defined by federal regulations. Both exempt and non-exempt research must be reviewed by the UH Human Studies Program. Exempt research is considered to be low risk and is subject to fewer requirements. There is an application for approval of exempt research on this website. Completing this application will help you determine whether your research qualifies as exempt.

6. How do I apply for approval of my research project?

Application forms and guidance provide include step-by-step instructions to help UH researchers apply for IRB approval. The HSP Investigator’s Handbook provides additional details on how to apply for approval of research involving human participants.

7. My research involves no risk to human participants. Why does IRB approval need to be renewed every year?

All human subjects research potentially involves some risk to study participants. Even low risk studies involving innocuous surveys, for example, present a time burden to participants. Research involving record review presents the potential for loss of privacy. If your research qualifies as exempt, it does not require continuing review on a regular basis. However, if your research is non-exempt, requiring expedited or full IRB review, federal regulations require continuing review and re-approval at least annually at a schedule to be determined by the IRB. You must apply for continuing review, using the appropriate application form.

If your IRB approval expires, you must stop all study activities until you have received written documentation from the Human Studies Program that your project has been reapproved.

8. How long will it take for the IRB to approve my study?

This depends on a number of factors, most importantly, the quality of the application and its attachments (e.g., consent forms, questionnaires, etc.).

In general, the turnaround time from start of review to decision is as follows:

  • Exempt (2-3 weeks)
  • Expedited (3-4 weeks)
  • Full-Board (4-8 weeks)

Take note, that turnaround time may be longer during busy months (October-November, March-April) when the Human Studies Program receives higher volume of applications.

9. Is there a calendar listing IRB meetings?

 The IRB meeting calendar provides the deadline dates for submitting applications for full-board review.

10. What if I want to change my study after the IRB has approved it?

Changes to IRB-approved research must have prior written approval by the IRB before implementation. This is federal law. For information on how to apply for approval to modify a research project, see the Investigator’s Handbook. In addition, see  Human Studies Program SOP 115: Submitting Modification Requests to the IRB.

11. What are the training requirements for conducting human subjects research at UH?
12. Are approvals needed by departments other than the Human Studies Program?

This will depend on a number of factors. Here are a few examples:

  • Research to be performed in a Hawai‘i Department of Education (HIDOE) school or office requires prior approval by the State Superintendent. Check the HIDOE website for more information, application, and instructions.
  • Research involving recombinant DNA requires review by the UH Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
  • Research involving University of Hawai‘i institutional data requires review by the UH Data Governance Program. For more information, see
  • If your research will be performed, in whole or in part, by a non-UH institution (e.g., a local hospital or other facility), you may need to apply for IRB approval by UH and at the other institution.
13. How do I contact the Human Studies Program?

eProtocol FAQ

1. What is eProtocol?
  • eProtocol is web-based software that promotes and facilitates the protection of human research participants.
  • eProtocol helps assure compliance with federal regulations for human research protections.
  • eProtocol is used by researchers, management staff, technical teams, committee members, and reporting units.
2. What are some of the benefits of eProtocol?
  • Intuitive, online interface with dynamic, question-based forms ("smart forms")
  • Streamlined administrative processes (including the elimination of duplicative data entry for common compliance processes)
  • Ability to modify and edit drafts, pause form completion and continue later
  • Forms that can be completed by someone other than the form signatory
  • Reporting and email notification features
3. Who is able to access eProtocol?

All UH-affiliates (faculty, students, staff, etc.) can access eProtocol using their UH username. Non-UH affiliates will need to obtain a UH username and password to access the system.

4. Will all my protocols be available in the new system?

At system launch (April 15, 2016), only new applications will be processed using eProtocol. Active protocols initiated prior to the launch will continue to be processed using the existing submission mechanisms.

5. How do I access eProtocol?
  1. Pick any internet browser (e.g., Safari, Firefox, Chrome)
  2. Adjust that browser’s settings to allow pop-ups
  3. Go to the URL
  4. Use your UH email username/password to log on
6. How can I learn more about using eProtocol?
7. Who do I contact if I need help?
For help navigating the IRB eProtocol application and submission process, contact the UH ORC Human Studies Program.