Use of Human Subjects

Regulated Research and Harvard University Institutional Review Board (IRB)

If you plan to have human research participants (e.g., interviewees, survey respondents, etc.), you may need to obtain approval from Harvard’s Committee on the Use of Human Subjects.

Review IRB's handout on the definition of regulated research and speak to your research advisor. If you need IRB approval, factor in time to gain IRB approval as it can take several weeks.

Pseudonyms and Consent Forms

When working with research participants, you will need to develop a consent form. It is Extension School policy to protect the confidentially of all research participants by using pseudonyms. Real names are never used, unless they are scholars or high-level professionals in the field who are offering their expert opinions, and only if they consent to having their real names used. This goes for institutions as well. If you are studying a particular museum, for example, it is the Extension School policy to not name the specific museum. 

In sum, it is your ethical duty to be vigilant about gaining the proper permission to engage in research and protecting research participants' anonymity.

Examples of Consent Forms from the CUHS site:

Adult Consent Form Template

Parental or Guardian Permission Template

Child Assent Form Template

Short form Consent Form Template