Your Responsibilities as an Undergraduate Researcher

Ethics and Compliance with Research Policies and Standards
Students in the College are expected to become familiar with their discipline’s ethical standards and to conduct their research activities with integrity and a commitment to academic excellence. Research is governed at both the institutional and federal level. You are strongly encouraged to ask questions of your faculty mentors about proper practices and procedures, to get safety and ethics training early on and when appropriate, and to follow the directions of your faculty mentor(s) and other research staff closely.  All College students engaged in undergraduate research are held to the same standards articulated in the Academic Integrity and Student Conduct statement.

If you are an undergraduate researcher who deals with human or animal subjects, you must be informed about and compliant with the UChicago policy and federal regulatory requirements for conducting research with humans and animals. All undergraduate researchers are strongly encouraged to review the policies, conduct, and other informational materials made available by the University Research Administration and the Office of the Vice-President for Research, Innovation, and National Laboratories:

Human Subjects (IRB)
If you are pursuing research involving human subjects, you must determine if you are required to secure formal approval for your work through the UChicago Human Subjects Institutional Review Board process (commonly called 'IRB'). You can read more about the process by visiting the University of Chicago Human Subjects Review website.  Please read it carefully and note that this includes any type of research involving human subjects - thesis, independent study, field-work, data collection, international research funded by an SITG, and/or potentially a Fulbright grant post-UChicago. If you are student currently working with a faculty PI or research mentor, do not assume that if they have IRB approval, your work is automatically covered under their approval process. Before you can make your work with human subjects public in any way - publications, presentations, symposium abstracts - you need to ensure you have met any/all IRB approval expectations and should be aware of the limitations of making your work public. 

Generally speaking, if you intend to conduct research that includes collecting data about a living individual, children or at-risk populations, including personal or sensitive data, performing ethnographies or any other work that engages in person-to-person contact and/or may compel you to undertake research in environments that put you at risk (eg prison systems, refugee support environments, etc), you should carefully review the information provided here and, if necessary, set up an appointment with the team at your respective Institutional Review Board office (see below). They will be able to assess if your work demands full approval and guide you through the process. Be aware that this process can take up to three months for approval, sometimes longer.  As a researcher, this is your responsibility. You must plan accordingly. 

Before you make an inquiry with the respective UChicago Human Subject Institutional Review Board, we strongly recommend undergraduate researchers review the 'Back to Basics: Does my research fall within the scope of regulations' webinar offered by the federal Office of Human Research Protections website.  Reviewing this webinar, and any other information on the HRP website does not exempt you from formal review but is a good place to learn more about human subjects research.

If you are a College student in the:

Health and Safety Training: Safe practices are essential for research laboratories to ensure that intensive scientific inquiry goes uninterrupted. Laboratory safety begins with a comprehensive assessment of risks posed by research reagents and associated lab activities as well as an assessment of compliance issues associated with research conducted within that lab. Student researchers should visit the Office of Research training page for more information on health and safety training in the laboratory sciences. 

Animal Subjects
For work with animals, visit the University Research Administration Policies and Compliance website and carefully review the explicit policies on research involving animals on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) website. You should speak with your faculty advisors and others who work in your environment to learn about their expectations and your roles/responsibilities while participating in research with animals. You should also inquire about basic training courses, offered through IACUC.

Patient-Oriented and Translational Research
Students involved in research at the UChicago Medical Center or in anything related to patient-oriented and/or translational research are strongly encouraged to review the resources provided by the Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM).  ITM invites College students to attend their free 'Essentials of Patient-Oriented Research' (EPR) courses offered throughout the year and summer.  All students who receive funding from or participate in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research opportunities are required to attend the full suite of EPR courses.  Students are also encouraged to attend events and participate in training and programming offered through the MacLean Center for Medical Ethics.

The following websites include insightful information on research ethics: