Research that uses human subjects or collects data from humans is regulated by Code of Federal Regulations for the Protection of Human Subjects (45 CFR 46). Each university has an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that is charged with enforcing the federal code. If the purpose of your evaluation is to gauge program success, improve your programs, or to internally report your efforts this may not require review and approval of IRB. Note, however, IRB may require review to determine the project is exempt from adherence to the policy; check your own institutional protocols.
If you plan to generate and share new knowledge outside your internal reporting system, such as in publications, or presentations to colleagues, clientele or professional peers, the protocol must be reviewed by IRB and approved prior to distribution of the survey instrument. All human subject policies and procedures then must be adhered to. The following resources provide information on review and approval of your survey protocol to comply with these federal guidelines.
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 45 Public Welfare, Department of Health and Human Services, Part 46 Protection of Human Subjects
This website by US Department of Health and Human Services, provides a summation of the Code of Federal Regulations for the Protection of Human Subjects (45 CFR 46). This is the basis for all human subjects research protocol. 2009.
Creating Effective Evaluations and Getting Through Human Subjects Approval
This how to guide by Jonathan Ferris, Purdue University, focuses on structuring survey questions to ease approval by IRB. An on-line presentation. 2008.
Compliance with Regulations for Protection of Human Research Subjects in Program Evaluation and Research
This how to guide by Keith Diem, Rutgers University, provides an overview of Human Research Subjects and related requirements. While Rutgers focused, it provide guidelines and steps that are applicable to many other institutions. 2003.
Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research (IRB)
This website by Rutgers' ORSP, provides procedural steps for seeking review of research protocol involving human subjects. Each university will have their own protocol for submission of research protocols.