Institutional Review Board

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Technology is changing the way we live and think and it is growing faster than our capacity to maintain pace. The future success and competitiveness of any organization will depend on its ability to keep abreast with the technological advancements. Parallel and equally important to technology advancements is the future of education; educational institutions will be largely virtual and based on the artificial intelligence technology. There will be an outburst of the Internet of Things, which will enable us to talk to our belongings, walls and appliances that will be intelligent enough to learn from their experiences.

Some other technological areas that are changing the world at a faster rate are Genetics and Bioinformatics, Nanotechnology, Robotics, Big Data, Blockchain and Computer Security in the wake of quantum computing.

In order to keep one step ahead of the technological advancements, Stratford’s Research Division conducts research in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IOT), Big Data, Blockchain, Cyber Security, Genetics/Bioinformatics, Nanotechnology and Robotics.

Vision: Research in technological areas to stay ahead of the challenges of the future.
Mission: Stratford’s Research Division (SRD) promotes the transformation of informatics and inter-disciplinary knowledge by seeking to pioneer applications for the collective benefit of all stakeholders and conducting applied research in advanced technological and inter-disciplinary areas.

Core Research Areas:

Stratford’s Research Division encourages research in the following core areas.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • Blockchain Technology
  • Bioinformatics (including Genetics and Nanotechnology)
  • Robotics and Internet of Things (IOT)
  • Computer Security

Institutional Review Board


An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a specialized committee, officially established to review and approve research proposals, required by the Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations that safeguards the rights and welfare of human subjects. IRB determines “the acceptability of proposed research in terms of institutional commitments and regulations, applicable Federal law, and standards of professional conduct and practice” (45 CFR 46).

An essential aim of the IRB is to safeguard human subjects from physical or psychological harm by evaluating the ethics of the proposed research and its methodologies in order to endorse informed harmless and voluntary participation by potential subjects.

Stratford university policy is to apply the guidance and regulations applicable under (45 CFR 46.107) to all human research conducted at the university.

The mission of Stratford’s IRB is to safeguard the rights and safety of participating subjects in research conducted by Stratford’s students and faculty. The IRB will provide support and guidance to the university’s research community to ensure that:

  • The risks to human subjects are reduced by applying procedures consistent with sound research design and that do not needlessly expose the research participants to risk.
  • The benefits- the desired outcomes- of the research overweigh the risks- the probability of harm or injury (physical, psychological, social, or economic) occurring as a result of participation in a research study.
  • The selection of human subjects for research participation is impartial.
  • Full disclosure of the risks and benefits of research participation is made to the participants prior to their participation.
  • Sufficient provisions are in place for the protection of the privacy of human research subjects and confidentiality of data.


It is the researcher’s responsibility to make sure that the IRB application and all supporting materials are submitted to The IRB staff always confirms receipt of IRB materials. Human subject research data collection should not commence prior to receiving explicit IRB approval from


Stratford’s IRB consists of members from varying backgrouds who are qualified and experienced in conducting research and/or leading academic research studies. The IRB is responsible for ensuring that all Stratford University research complies with the university’s ethical standards and meets U.S. federal regulations and any applicable international guidelines. IRB approval indicates the institution’s official assessment that the potential risks of the study are outweighed by the potential benefits.

Outside of the explicit dates and terms of IRB approval, researchers are not entitled to any protections, recognition, funding, or other support provided by Stratford University.

This application should be completed by all students and faculty who are conducting research projects of any scope involving collection or analysis of data from living persons (whether from surveys, interviews, observation, student work, or records of any type). The only categories of research that do not need to be submitted for IRB approval are literature reviews, hypothetical research designs, and faculty projects that are completely independent of Stratford University. Research projects conducted by full-time employees of Stratford are also under the purview of the Stratford IRB. Instead of completing this form, staff researchers should send an email inquiry to to initiate the IRB approval process for staff research.

Questions about the IRB application and related materials may be submitted to at any time.

It is expected that doctoral students will review IRB requirements as they are writing the proposal and to that end, this IRB application can be used as a worksheet to help think through the ethical issues of data collection. However, the student would need to complete the IRB application after proposal approval in order to address the details of the final, approved research design.

Researchers should allow a minimum of 4-6 weeks for IRB review (4 weeks for minimal risk studies and 6 weeks for studies involving vulnerable populations). This form takes 1-2 hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the study. Once the IRB staff confirms that the IRB application is complete, the IRB application will be scheduled for review at the next available IRB meeting (typically within 10 business days). Feedback from the board will be returned within 5 business days (amounting to a total of 15 business days for the initial review). Note that when a study is “approved with revisions,” the researcher should allow an additional 10-15 business days for those revisions to be reviewed and approved. If the revisions do not adequately address the ethical concerns, then an additional round of revisions and review might be necessary. The IRB members make every effort to make the revision requirements as clear as possible.

No. Researchers may NOT begin recruiting participants (i.e., obtaining consent form signatures) prior to IRB approval.

Researchers must reapply for IRB approval if changes are made to the research procedures after IRB approval.

  • Some research categories are expempt from IRB review, but the researcher still has to be submitted to the IRB. If it falls under the exempt categories, the IRB coordinator will grant a desk approval without sending it to the board for review. Unless otherwise required by department or agency heads, research activities in which the only involvement of human subjects will be in one or more of the following categories are exempt from this policy:
  • Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as
    1. research on regular and special education instructional strategies, or
    2. research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods.
  • Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of public behavior, unless:
    1. information obtained is recorded in such a manner that human subjects can be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects; and
    2. any disclosure of the human subjects' responses outside the research could reasonably place the subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subjects' financial standing, employability, or reputation.
  • Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures, or observation of public behavior that is not exempt under paragraph (b)(2) of this section, if:
    1. the human subjects are elected or appointed public officials or candidates for public office; or
    2. federal statute(s) require(s) without exception that the confidentiality of the personally identifiable information will be maintained throughout the research and thereafter.
  • Research involving the collection or study of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens, if these sources are publicly available or if the information is recorded by the investigator in such a manner that subjects cannot be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects.
  • Research and demonstration projects which are conducted by or subject to the approval of department or agency heads, and which are designed to study, evaluate, or otherwise examine:
    1. Public benefit or service programs;
    2. procedures for obtaining benefits or services under those programs;
    3. possible changes in or alternatives to those programs or procedures; or
    4. possible changes in methods or levels of payment for benefits or services under those programs
  • Taste and food quality evaluation and consumer acceptance studies,
    1. if wholesome foods without additives are consumed or
    2. if a food is consumed that contains a food ingredient at or below the level and for a use found to be safe, or agricultural chemical or environmental contaminant at or below the level found to be safe, by the Food and Drug Administration or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Applicants are required to complete the NIH Web-based training course "Protecting Human Research Participants". This is an online training consisting of seven modules; each addressing the principles used to define ethical research using humans and the regulations, policies, and guidance that describe the implementation of those principles. The entire course will take approximately 3 hours to complete. Applicants are required to complete the course before completing IRB application form.

The course completition certificate should be attached with the application form.

The purpose of this IRB application is to collect enough specific information to document that the study’s benefits outweigh the costs and that the procedures are in compliance with federal regulations and university policies. To those ends, the board will evaluate the IRB application based on how well the following ethical principles are upheld:

Beneficence = maximize possible benefits and minimize possible harms
Justice = fairly distribute benefits and burdens of research
Respect for Persons = acknowledge participants’ autonomy and protect those with diminished autonomy

General Description of the Proposed Research

  • Demonstrate the ethical rationale for each component of data collection by describing how each will be analyzed to address the research question(s).
  • Provide specific descriptions of the tasks the participants will be asked to complete.

Potential Risks and Benefits

  • Describe anticipated risks and benefits of study participation.
  • Make provisions to minimize risks to research participants and document those procedures.

Data Integrity and Confidentiality

  • Describe procedures to maintain data confidentiality and integrity.
  • If data includes personal identifiers, submit signed certificates of confidentiality for everyone who has access to the data (except faculty members).
  • If applicable, complete extra sections relevant to protected health information.

Potential Conflicts of Interest

  • Disclose and manage potential conflicts of interest.

Data Collection Tools

  • Describe all tools (surveys, interview questions, etc.) and authorizations related to data collection including evidence of compliance with copyright holder’s terms of usage, permission to reproduce the instrument in the dissertation, or confirmation that the tool is public domain (as applicable).

Description of the Research Participants

  • Describe the study population, particularly inclusion and exclusion criteria, to demonstrate that those who shoulder the burden of the research will actually benefit from it.
  • Describe how any vulnerable populations will be protected from safety/privacy risks and pressure to participate.

Informed Consent

  • Make provisions to obtain and document informed consent from all study participants and the appropriate parents, guardians, or caregivers.
  • Submit unsigned copies of any relevant consent documents.

Final Checklist and Electronic Signatures

  • Students must obtain faculty approval before submitting this form to

Please download the Application Form here. This form must be completed and submitted via email. If you have questions as you are completing the form, please contact


NameAffiliationDesignationRole in IRBVoting Member?Email
Dr. Shakir UllahStratford UniversityProf. & International Research
Dr. David MooreArray Analytics, External ReviewerSoftware EngineerNon-affiliate
Dr. Ravi RathnamStratford UniversityFaculty, Health Sciences - Stratford UniversityAffiliate
Dr. Hamida HusseinStratford UniversityFaculty LeadAffiliate
Dr. Norman FlowersStratford UniversityCampus President - BaltimoreAffiliate
Dr. Roblyn LewterStratford UniversityUniversity Wide, Program WideAffiliate