Office of Responsible Research Practices
The Ohio State University

Exempt Research

All research activities involving humans as research participants must be reviewed and approved by an Ohio State Institutional Review Board (IRB), unless the Office of Responsible Research Practices (ORRP) determines that the research falls into one or more of the categories of exemption established by federal regulations.

IRB Exemption Categories
Tip Sheet: Exempt category 2
Tip Sheet: Exempt category 3

Applying for IRB Exemption

Requests for exempt determinations are made using the Buck-IRB online system.

To ensure an effective review, a full description of the planned research (i.e., a research protocol or proposal) must be submitted. A research protocol provides information such as the study objectives, background, detailed plan for conducting the research, and discussion of how the research findings will be analyzed.


Only a faculty member may serve as a principal investigator for student research. Each investigator listed on the study will receive an e-mail notification that the project is incomplete/requires clarification, approved for exempt status, or disapproved. A detailed e-mail will be sent asking for clarifications or changes to incomplete submissions. Please allow three weeks to receive a determination of exempt status.

Exempt research is generally short term in nature. It usually is performed “as written,” i.e., the investigators do not plan to make changes in the research design, selection of subjects, informed consent process, or study instruments during the course of the research.

Investigators conducting research determined to be exempt are responsible for ensuring that the welfare of human subjects participating in research activities is protected and that the methods used and information provided to obtain participant consent are appropriate to the activity.

Investigators may not solicit subject participation or begin data collection until they have received written or electronic concurrence from ORRP that the research has been determined to be exempt.

For more information, see HRPP Policy Exempt Research.

Changes to Exempt Studies

The only amendment type that can be submitted to active exempt studies are personnel change requests. Any other revisions require a new exempt submission. To facilitate the new submission process, researchers can copy a previously approved study in Buck-IRB and only revise those sections/documents that need to be revised. Below are step-by-step instructions to submit a revised exempt study:

  1. From your Buck-IRB homepage, select study 20XXEXXXX (study number).
  2. From the Study Actions menu, select “Copy Study.”
  3. A new study will be created, with all application information from 20XXEXXXX auto-populated. Please note: upload all study documents in the appropriate sections as documents do not auto-populate.
  4. On the Other Files/Comments page, upload a cover letter explaining that the new study will replace 20XXEXXXX and the changes that were made. This will facilitate review.
  5. Submit the new exempt application for review.

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