Welcome to research and innovation at ADU.

Protect individuals involved

Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research

The Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research (IRB) provides a mechanism to protect individuals involved as subjects in research conducted under the auspices of the University, in line with ADU’s ethical and legal responsibilities. The IRB must review any research conducted at, supported by, or affiliated with Abu Dhabi University involving human subjects before the initiation of the study. The aim is to ensure that the rights of the human subjects are not violated in any way, either physically or emotionally. Based on the potential level of risk for human subjects, research projects may be exempt from review, expedited, or be subjected to a full review as detailed in the Board’s policy and guidelines.

The IRB includes a representative of each College and program, in addition to an ethicist, a science representative, a non-science representative, and the Director of Research as an ex-officio, non-voting member.

The review process is based on the Board’s mandating policy and guidelines, using the concept of minimal risk to decide the extent to which the subject’s interests warrant a formal and extensive review of the research proposal. The following three principles constitute the basis for the review process:

  • The subjects must give their free and informed consent to participate in the research.
  • Researchers must protect subject confidentiality.
  • Potential risks to subjects must be balanced by the potential benefits of the research and must be fully disclosed to the subjects

Before submitting an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application, you must determine if an IRB review is actually required for your project.

IRB review and approval are required for projects that:

  • Meet the definition of research
  • Involve human subjects
  • Include any interaction or intervention with human subjects or involve access to identifiable private information

IRB approval is required before you start your research.

Research is defined as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. This may include:

  • Collection of quantitative or qualitative data
  • Collection of data using surveys, testing or evaluation procedures, interviews, or focus groups
  • Collection of data using experimental designs such as clinical trials Observation of individual or group behavior

‘Contribute to generalizable knowledge’ means that the purpose or intent of the project is to test or develop scientific theories or hypotheses, or draw conclusions that are intended to be applicable or shared beyond the populations or situations being studied. This may include one or more of the following:

  • Presentation of the data at meetings, conferences, seminars, poster presentations, etc.
  • The knowledge contributes to an already established body of knowledge
  • Other investigators, scholars, and practitioners may benefit from this knowledge
  • Publications including journals, papers, dissertations, and master’s theses

If the project does not meet the definition of research (e.g. is not a systematic investigation or does not contribute to generalizable knowledge) as described above, then the project does not require IRB review.


Are Human Subjects Involved?

A human subject is a living individual about whom a researcher obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual or identifiable private information.

If the project does not meet the definition of research or does not include human subjects, then it does not require IRB review.

If you are uncertain whether your project is research, please contact for advice.


IRB - Exempt Application
IRB - Expedite/Full Review Application
IRB - General Guidelines
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