Institutional Review Board
American College of Education accepts responsibility for ensuring the confidentiality, safety, health, and welfare of research participants are adequately protected. The College operates an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to review and approve research proposals. The IRB will assess the researcher’s plans for human subject protection and ensure ethical guidelines are followed before, during and after the research project.
Members of an Institutional Review Board are appointed by the academic leadership team in accordance with federal guidelines. This board meets regularly to consider research proposals from members of the ACE community (faculty, staff, and students). The board is also responsible for recommending and monitoring research-related training, including research ethics, for the college community. (For additional details, refer to the IRB Handbook).
American College of Education does not tolerate research misconduct and will start an inquiry if an allegation that satisfies the definition of research misconduct is reported. A formal investigation will follow the initial inquiry. The respondent will be found either in compliance or not in compliance of the charge, and if found not in compliance, may be permanently administratively dismissed from the college. Academic sanctions may include, but are not limited to, withdrawal from the associated course with a grade of F and/or a reduction of a grade in the course. Disciplinary sanctions may include, but not limited to, suspension for a specified period of time, permanent separation from the institution, and/or filing of criminal charges.
- An allegation of research misconduct may be filed by anyone, even if they have no relationship with ACE. An allegation should be filed only if sufficient credible evidence exists to support it, such as, but not limited to, fabrication of results or documentation falsification of results, plagiarism, serious deviation from accepted practices, or deviation from IRB approved research protocols. Any allegations must be forwarded in writing to the student’s department head or Human Resources (for allegations against faculty/staff). The designated party will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine, within 10 business days of receiving the allegation, whether or not a full investigation is necessary.
- If it is determined through the preliminary inquiry that a full investigation is unnecessary, the department head or Human Resources will dismiss the allegation without further action. A temporary record file which contains copies of the documents used during the inquiry, as well as original records will be sealed and maintained securely in accordance with the college’s record retention and destruction policy. ,If it is determined through the preliminary inquiry that a full investigation is necessary, the following steps will occur depending on whether the respondent is a student or faculty/staff:
- Student Respondent: The department head will refer the case to the Department Committee (DC) to conduct a full investigation.
- Faculty/Staff Respondent: Human Resources will conduct a full investigation.
- The DC or Human Resources will notify the respondent of the alleged research misconduct violation. The notification should detail the allegations set forth and provide the individual the opportunity to submit a written statement addressing the allegations in accordance with due process rights. The notification will provide the individual three business days to respond.
- Once the respondent provides their statement, the DC or Human Resources should begin the investigation process.
- The DC or Human Resources will have 30 business days to complete the full investigation.
- If the investigation is against a student, the student will remain enrolled until found not in compliance by the committee. During the investigation, the student may not conduct any research.
- The faculty or staff member will remain employed until found not in compliance by Human Resources, and all appeals are exhausted. During the investigation, the faculty or staff may not conduct any research.
- A report shall be produced at the end of the investigation which will:
- Describe allegations
- Identify the respondent, including name and position
- Include the names and titles of investigation committee members
- Identify and summarize research records and evidence
- Include a contract or funding source information (if applicable)
- Describe and document any federal support, including policy and procedures used
- After the report is finalized, the DC or Human Resources will then inform the respondent and all necessary parties of the decision in writing. The DC or Human Resources will also secure all records of the evidence and proceedings. All documents entered as part of the student’s electronic permanent record, maintained in the current Student Information System at American College of Education will be retained indefinitely.
- If the respondent disagrees with the results of the investigation, a student respondent can appeal the decision through the General Appeal Form, and a faculty/staff respondent can notify Human Resources of their desire to appeal the decision. The appeal must be made within 10 business days of receiving the decision notice provided that it is limited to a grievance of sanctions that were imposed as a result of a finding of research misconduct or a claim that the process was flawed which made the outcome inaccurate.
- Upon a final decision of research misconduct, the respondent, if an employee, may be terminated from employment. A student may be dismissed from the College with the decision for dismissal as a part of their permanent record. Academic sanctions may include, but are not limited to, withdrawal from the associated course with a grade of F and/or a reduction of a grade in the course. Disciplinary sanctions may include, but not limited to, loss of collected data, revisions and resubmissions of proposed research, temporary dismissal for a specified period of time, permanent dismissal from the institution, and/or filing of criminal charges.
- If the final decision does not find research misconduct, the person will have their reputation restored by removing any mention of the procedure from the respondent’s human resource file or permanent academic record.
- A temporary record file which contains copies of the documents used during the investigation, as well as original records will be sealed and filed within a designated location, such as SharePoint, for 5 years after completion of the investigation. Originals will be returned to those who provided them. After 5 years, the temporary files will be destroyed or deleted.
Conflict of Interest
American College of Education requires that all employees conduct the College’s affairs in accordance with high ethical standards. As a result, ACE does not allow any conflict of interest to occur in research. Financial interests related to research that must be reported include those received for personal financial benefit from the research sponsoring entity, as well as any equity ownership, any management positions, any ownership of intellectual property, licenses, and all financial interests and relationships with the sponsor of any research. The IRB will inspect each research proposal for possible COI and will make the final decision regarding the research. ACE researchers must abide by the COI requirements of any Federal agencies if the research is sponsored. Employees and students are expected to report any possible COI to the IRB. Each instance of a suspected conflict of interest will be evaluated by the IRB. If the IRB determines that COI has occurred, a management plan described in the procedures that follow will be carried out.
- Any ACE employee or student intending on engaging in research that will involve a conflict of interest needs to inform both their supervisor and the IRB. The IRB will have the final decision regarding the research proposal.
- Any ACE employee or student may complete the disclosure form if they feel that conflict of interest has occurred during research.
- The disclosure form will be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for evaluation. The IRB may consult with various individuals as needed.
- If no COI has occurred, the person submitting the disclosure form will be notified in writing.
- If an instance of COI has occurred, the IRB will meet with the faculty/staff/student (person(s)) heading the research and their immediate supervisor/faculty in order to develop and approve a management plan. The plan may include severing the relationships that are causing the COI; removing contract terms that are causing the COI; admitting and disclosing the COI in all publications/presentations, written notification to the research sponsor, and in the informed consent to human research participants; modifying the scope of the project; divesting the financial interest giving rise to the conflict; designating a colleague or department chair with no COI to the research to serve as lead investigator. In rare cases, the individual may be disqualified from the project. After the plan has been approved, the IRB will inform everyone involved in the research in writing of the COI and related management plan.
Human Subjects Protection
American College of Education realizes it has responsibility for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in research at ACE. ACE also accepts responsibility for following the local, state and federal laws related to the research. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) will review, approve, reject or require changes in research involving human subjects. ACE IRB will ensure that informed consent will be obtained by the researchers using human subjects.
In addition, it will carefully evaluate those proposals involving vulnerable subjects, including those below the age of 18.
A living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual or through identifiable confidential information.
The probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.
- The IRB reviews all proposals for research and will determine whether or not the proposal involves the use of human subjects.
- The IRB will determine whether the risks of the research are reasonable with regards to the benefits.
- Similarly, the IRB will evaluate the benefits of the research to the participants.
- The IRB will review the proposal regarding the selection of the research participants. In addition, it will carefully evaluate proposals that include subjects from vulnerable populations such as children below 18 years of age, prisoners, mentally challenged persons, and pregnant women.
- The IRB will review the method to be used for the identification of participants, as well as the confidentiality of both the participants and the information provided by these participants.
- The IRB will examine the informed consent process that will be used by the researchers.
Confidentiality of Information
Ethical guidelines require that research involving human subjects protect the privacy of the subjects and the confidentiality of their data. Research participants are entitled to have their personal information kept private. Leaking any confidential data may cause harm to the subject, such as the loss of a job, financial loss, or emotional stress. In addition, human subjects may not wish to participate in research unless there is a guarantee of confidentiality.
American College of Education upholds the ethical guidelines regarding research studies. Any use of student records used in research, will comply with FERPA requirements and protect the confidentiality of all participants. ACE ensures that the information received from human subjects during research studies will be kept confidential and participants will be fully informed of their rights.
- The Institutional Review Board will carefully review all applications for research to verify there are provisions to protect the confidentiality of information to be provided by research participants.
- The IRB will review procedures to ensure that potential investigators include provisions for maintaining the confidentiality of data during data collection. In addition, the IRB will ensure that the research proposal includes a plan to encode or change personal data such as names.
- The IRB must be informed as soon as an instance of unauthorized release or loss of data has occurred. The IRB will conduct an investigation in order to determine whether or not a violation of protocol or another form of non-compliance has occurred, and determine, along with academic leadership, an appropriate course of action in response.
Only the researchers specified in the proposal should be allowed to access the personal data.
All digital data files must be kept confidentially stored using security procedures such as password and data encryption. Non-digital data, including paper notes, hard copies, audio/ videotapes, etc. must also be stored in a locked location with access limited to the research team. Data must be kept for ten years if the research is published. Procedures for data disposal must also protect identities and maintain confidentiality.