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Status, Routing, Certification and Department Approval

Consent forms

Naming (or renaming) your consent forms and attachments

Accessing your approval letter and document list


Responding to IRB Stipulations

Human Research Ethics Training


Data Security

Affiliating with UNC-Chapel Hill in CITI

Automatic deletion of aging draft submissions

Institutional Requirements

Online submission training

Is IRBIS online submission system training available?

Task-specific submission guides are accessible here. You may also request assistance from the IRBIS Technical Help Desk: Back to top

Status, routing, certification and Department approval

How do I check status of my submission?

Click here for guidance. Back to top

When I submit a study, to whom is it routed? In what order?

After submission, the PI and Faculty Advisor (if relevant) are prompted to certify. Next, the PI’s Home (appointing) Department and, as relevant, the Administering Department (the department where the research is being conducted, if other than the Home Department) must approve. After departmental approval(s), the CTRC and PRC (if involved in the research) must certify. The submission is then passed to the IRB. See routing chart. Back to top

Who approves the submission in the Home and Administering Departments?

Upon PI (and faculty advisor) certification, department approvers are notified by email that a submission awaits their review. These department approvers are appointed by the head of the Department, Division, or Center, and approve on his/her behalf. If the department approver is also an investigator on the project under review, a second designee must review. Other departmental personnel may additionally be appointed reviewers, but these reviewers cannot approve, and must forward comments to the department approver for his/her consideration. No submission can be accepted by the IRB until approved by the relevant department(s). Back to top

What does the Home or Administering Department approve?

By approving, the Home or Administering department affirms that:

  • The research is appropriate for the investigator and his/her Department
  • The investigator(s) are qualified to conduct the research
  • There are adequate resources (financial, support, and facilities) available
  • For units that have a local review committee for pre-IRB review, this requirement has been satisfied
  • The department supports the application and its review by the IRB
  • The department agrees to accept responsibility for managing data security risks in consultation with departmental or campus security personnel Back to top

How do designated departmental approvers/reviewers access submissions for review?

All designated reviewers and approvers are notified by email when a submission is ready for review. This email contains a link to the IRBIS (i.e., IRB-Information System) home page where the online submission can be reviewed. See instructions. Back to top

Can a Department Approver review a study on which he or she is named as study personnel, but is not the PI?

No. Back to top

Must both the Home and Administering Department approve?

If both a Home and Administering Department are named on a submission, each must approve the submission. Back to top

How is a departmental approval indicated?

When departmental approval is granted, the name of the approving individual is inserted at the bottom of the pdf copy of your application. These electronic “signatures” are recognized as being in compliance with Federal (FDA 21 CFR 11) standards. See instructions. Back to top

What if a Department does not approve a submission?

If the Department rejects your submission, the approver will provide you with specific feedback. You will receive an email informing you that your submission was not approved, and providing you with a link to the approver’s comments in IRBIS. After you address the reviewer’s concerns by revising your online application, you will resubmit it and it will be again routed to the department or entity that did not approve it as well as any department/entity that has not yet approved. See the Revising and Resubmitting following Department Disapproval training aid. Back to top

Will my response to IRB stipulations also be routed for department approval?

No. You will resubmit your revised application, with responses to stipulations, directly back to the IRB. Back to top

How do departmental reviewers provide feedback?

Departmental reviewers communicate their concerns to the designated department approver(s) external to IRBIS. The department approver then summarizes and conveys the committee’s feedback via the routing comments function within IRBIS.Back to top

CITI completion and COI disclosure

How do I monitor study staff progress toward CITI course completion and COI disclosure?

See general guidance here. Additional instructions about CITI training can be found here.

Click here for more information about the COI status table. Back to top

Ascertaining full board agenda date

How do I ascertain my submission’s full board agenda date?

See guidance. Dates and board information are posted here. Back to top

Consent forms

How does IRBIS “build” a consent form?

Based on your application responses, IRBIS selects from a library of basic templates (e.g., adult consent form, child assent to be used in your study — see Consent Process guidance). This template is then customized from your responses to key questions. On the Consent Forms screen, you may download this template and further edit it to create a consent form that reflects the particulars of your study. (See guidance; or training video.) Back to top

Can one member of my study team work on consent forms, while another completes the application?

Team members may collaborate on the online application. However, the entire application must be completed BEFORE the consent form templates are edited, since the consent form template is built from the application responses. Back to top

Are consent forms that are generated by the online system “stamped” to indicate approval by the IRB?

No. Effective August 20, 2012, the IRB ceased electronically “stamping” forms upon approval. Instead, researchers are now afforded the opportunity to generate a list of documents included with an approved submission. Because this Document List identifies documents by file name, it is important that file names are accurate, recognizable and distinguishable from others. This may be especially important to researchers who are subject to external monitoring or sponsor requirements. For more information, click here. Back to top

What if I receive a “Mime” error, and am unable to upload my consent form or attachment?

IRBIS will not accept some file formats, e.g., MS Publisher; neither will IRBIS accept password protected documents. But if your document is saved in MS Word or PDF, without password protection, and you are still receiving a Mime error message, here are some things to try: 1) Close your document before attempting to upload it; 2) Update your browser to the current version; 3) Access IRBIS through a different browser, e.g., Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari (using Google Chrome is not recommended); 4) Email the IRBIS Help Desk. Back to top

Naming (or renaming) your consent forms and attachments

What conventions should I adopt in naming my supporting documents?

Efective Monday, August 20, 2012, the IRB ceased electronically stamping consent forms and attachments. Instead, researchers are now afforded the opportunity to generate a list of documents included with an approved submission. Therefore, it is important that you provide a unique name for each supporting document, using the following suggested guidelines:

  • Make the file name sufficiently descriptive and the context of the file clear.
  • Avoid using certain special characters in a file name (& * ? < # : ,) as they may cause problems and may prevent upload of the document. A dash (-), blank space or underscore (_) may be used.
  • Format dates consistently and choose a clear standard. Always include the year. For example, March 24, 2011 might be represented as 24MAR2011 or 2011_03_24 or 03-24-11.
  • Use version numbers to manage revisions (e.g., V1, V2, V3). This may be useful for Protocols where both a date and version number are used to identify the document.
  • Be consistent. Develop a naming convention and have all study team members use it. As relevant, document your naming convention in your study file and share it with team members, monitors and auditors.
  • Abbreviate standard document types to reduce file name length (e.g., MP: Master Protocol, CF: Consent Form, AF: Assent Form, IG: Interview Guide)
  • Consider including the document file name in small font in the footer of the document. If you do this, remember to update the footer each time the document is revised. Back to top

Must I submit a modification to rename my existing documents?

Yes. However, a mechanism is provided on both the Consent Forms and Attachments screens to facilitate the renaming of existing documents, without opening them. Please click here to see the guidance. Also, please keep in mind that you may now modify your study when renewing. Back to top

Accessing your approval letter and document list

How do I access my approval letter and document list?

A pdf copy of each letter and list of submitted documents can be found on the IRB Study Management screen. Back to top

Why is my approval letter not signed?

Effective May 2011, written notifications from the IRB will no longer be signed as they are generated and delivered electronically by the IRB Information System. It is important to note that signatures are not required by Federal Regulations. See the letter to University researchers and sponsors and OHREʼs Statement of Compliance. Back to top

Responding to IRB stipulations

How will I be notified of the completed IRB review and any stipulations that I need to address?

You will be notified by email of any changes stipulated by the IRB. This same email will also be sent all members of your study team whom you designate to receive IRB correspondence. The email will contain a link to the IRBIS home page where all IRB correspondence requiring your attention is listed. Alternatively, you may access you stipulations at the IRBIS website (see guidance). Back to top

May any member of my study team respond to IRB stipulations?

Yes. Although the PI is responsible for the conduct of the study, he/she may delegate responsibility for responding to stipulations to others, as relevant. Back to top

How do I respond to stipulations?

Application stipulations: You can reply to application-related stipulations using an interactive webpage that will direct you to the exact location in the online application where each stipulation was noted. Be advised that you must both revise the application, and respond to each stipulation before you will be permitted to resubmit (see guidance). Back to top

IRB marked attachments: In addition, IRBIS makes available to you Word copies of your consent forms and attachments, with the IRB’s edits and comments in track-changes. You will be expected to make the requested changes within this marked up document, and then replace your original document with a clean revised version (see guidance). In order to facilitate review and communication of changes, it is recommended that you upload Word documents when available. Back to top

Does my response to stipulations require PI or Faculty Advisor re-certification?

No. Back to top

Does my response to stipulations require departmental approval?

No. Back to top

Human research ethics training

How do I indicate that my study team members who are employed by UNC-Chapel Hill have completed CITI training?

You need do nothing. Certification is reported directly to the IRB processing system for all UNC Personnel completing the CITI modules. Back to top

How do I indicate certification of my study team members who are employed by UNC-Chapel Hill, but who previously completed the CITI course at another institution?

Please ask these study team members to: (1) access their CITI accounts; (2) affiliate with UNC-Chapel Hill; (3) update their personal profile; (4) select Human Subjects Protection (IRB modules); and (5) select the appropriate CITI training group. This certification will then be reported directly to the UNC Human Research Ethics training database and to the IRB processing system. Back to top

How do I indicate that my study team members who are employed by other institutions have completed ethics training?

Upload the certification document from the member’s home institution as an attachment to General Information → Section 5, Multi-site Study Information. Back to top

How can I verify that my study team members have satisfied the human subjects research ethics training and conflict of interest requirements?

See guidance. Back to top

Data security

What about Data Security issues?

The move to online IRB applications is also bringing a change in the way the IRB (and the rest of campus) approaches data security. Recent episodes involving computer breaches have highlighted the need for a more rigorous, informed approach to protecting research data in the digital environment, including more active involvement and control by departments and schools. The revised IRB application moves away from a process that relied on the researcher to provide technical details and the IRB to review those details, accepting that neither of these parties were necessarily expert in modern data protection standards. The new application keeps track of certain parameters (e.g., the collection of personal identifiers and/or sensitive information), assigns a “security threat level” based on the combination of identifiability and sensitivity, and informs researchers what must be done to protect their data in accordance with ITS policies. Back to top

Where do I find the name of the IT staff member who advises my department on data security?

Your department chair can provide the name of and contact information for IT support staff who will advise your department on data security. These IT experts will also receive reports of studies in their area, so they are in better position to assist in the oversight and management of research data. Data security is ultimately a shared responsibility across investigators and the units in which they work. Back to top

Affiliating with UNC in CITI

How do I associate my existing CITI training record with UNC-Chapel Hill?

If you have recently affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill because UNC’s IRB is providing oversight for research conducted at your site, you must associate your CITI registration with UNC-Chapel Hill. To do so:

  1. Log into the CITI website, using your CITI Program Username and Password:
  2. Select Click here to affiliate with another institution
  3. Enter/select “University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill”
  4. Provide the required information
  5. Enter your UNC PID# (no hyphens or spaces)
  6. Select, “I would like to review the Human Subjects Protection (IRB) modules.” Select Next Question
  7. Select, “Have you completed the CITI UNC-Chapel Hill Basic Course?” then check, “I have not completed the CITI UNC-Chapel Hill Basic Course, but I have completed the CITI Basic Course at another institution.” Select next question
  8. Respond to the question, “What is the Basic Course that you completed at your other institution?” by indicating the Basic Course you have completed: Group 1; Group 2; Group 3. Select Next Question.
  9. CITI will indicate whether you need to take additional modules, required by UNC-Chapel Hill. Complete any required modules (UNC’s IRB will be notified within 48 hours of your secondary affiliation, and of any additional course completions).
  10. Do not remove your affiliation with your original institution.

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Automatic deletion of aging draft submissions

How long will my draft remain in IRBIS?

Submissions that remain in “draft” status (i.e., never submitted to the IRB) for more than six months will be automatically deleted on a monthly schedule. To prevent deletion, simply access the submission and click the Save button on any screen. Deletion of a “draft” post-approval submission (i.e., Modification, Renewal, or Closure) will not remove any previously approved submissions for that protocol. Back to top

Institutional requirements

When is the requirement for radiation safety sub-committee review waived?

See guidance. Back to top