A Note on International Research

Occasionally, Carleton-based research projects (i.e., the Principal Investigator and their research project is from Carleton) involve collecting data from human subjects in foreign countries.  This may be part of a student’s off-campus study activities, or a staff/faculty member’s research. 

In order for an international project to be approved, the researcher must demonstrate that, in addition to following all of the US requirements for ethical research with human subjects, their proposed project also meets all “local” standards for such research.  The preferred method for demonstrating that a proposal meets local standards is to enlist a “local” researcher to serve as the international IRB advisor.  They are typically based at a comparable research institution and will have experience and expertise related to the proposed research (e.g., for a comparative perceptual experiment that involves participants at Carleton and Mexico, a faculty member in the psychology department at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México would be a suitable local advisor).

If, however, a local advisor is not available, a Carleton faculty or staff member who has relevant experience working in that particular country and/or with international standards for research with human subjects may serve in this capacity.  In either case, the application should indicate (a) who the international IRB advisor(s) will be, (b) their qualifications to serve in this capacity, and (c) that they have together reviewed/discussed the project proposal.  If a project involves collecting data in more than one foreign country, the application must list who will serve as the IRB advisor for each country.

One additional note: The regulations and requirements for research with human subjects within the European Union (EU) are quite complex, and thus for projects that involve data collection within the EU, applicants are urged to partner with a suitable advisor (and their institution) to ensure that all EU standards are met.