SCC's Finding and Reporting Effective Data (FRED) functions as the Institutional Review Board for the purpose of conducting research on human subjects. In accordance with federal guidelines it monitors all research activities which involve people, including surveys.
Some research activities require a formal IRB review and approval process, and some may be "exempt" from review, instead requiring just a form identifying the project and which conditions (from a checklist) apply that may make the research exempt.
While survey research is often conducted in a way that makes it exempt, this is not always the case, and so the IRB requirements should always be carefully reviewed. It is your responsibility to submit the proper forms to the IRB concerning your research.
Often when we conduct surveys we are asking our subjects to trust us with information that is personal, ranging from demographic information about themselves to opinions or information about activities that they may not wish others to know. We have a responsibility to protect the identities of respondents and the information they provide. Especially in a small college community it may be possible to ascertain a respondent's identity with very little information.
There are federal regulations in place that help us to understand how to protect private information.
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - These are the federal regulations that protects the privacy of students and parents.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, Title II) This is the law that addresses the privacy and security of health records and individually identifiable health-related information.
Also, when you submit your survey for IRB approval or exemption, they will discuss any concerns they may have about ensuring the privacy of data.