Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Mercer University research. If you're looking for assistance with something specific, select a topic listed below to see what other investigators have asked.

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If you can't find the answers you're looking for, contact the Office of Research Compliance and our staff will be happy to assist you.

General IRB Questions

IRB review does not begin until the ORC has received a COMPLETE protocol application. A complete application MUST include a completed New Protocol Application form with ALL required signatures and any additional documents required to conduct your research (i.e., informed consents and signed permissions and research requests).

Once the ORC has received your complete application, it will be processed and pending review. Protocol applications typically take up to two weeks to be processed, reviewed, and approved or exempt by the IRB.

NOTE: Applications are processed in the order they are received. Processing and review of your applicaiton may be delayed if submitted to the ORC around IRB Meeting dates or holidays.

A research application may only be determined exempt by the Institutional Review Board for Human Subject Research. No research may be conducted until a protocol application has been submitted, reviewed, and either Approved or determined Exempt from Further Review by the IRB.

If your application is exempt, the Principal Investigator will receive an official exemption letter from the IRB when you have been approved to begin research.

When adding contact information to an informed consent form, use a phone number and email address that can be used to reach you most readily.

The new Mercer University protocol forms and applications available through our website work best on Windows-based computers with Microsoft Word 2010 (or higher). If you do not have a version of Microsoft Word capable of supporting the form fields, try completing the form using a Microsoft OneDrive Account (Mercer students can login using their university ID and password).

While the ORC prefers that these forms be used, Mac-friendly versions are available upon request for investigators who cannot access the necessary software.

The new Mercer Protocol forms and applications have been revised to accommodate updates in the IRB's internal database. On the new protocol applications, many items have been revised and some new items have been added to speed up data entry and processing and make it easier for the IRB to review your protocol. If you complete an old version of the protocol forms, your application will be incomplete and rejected by the ORC as it will not contain all of the information necessary for IRB review.

Returning investigators who are familiar with the different Mercer protocol documents and already know which ones they need to download may access a full list of all available Mercer research forms and applications by visiting for IRB forms and for IACUC forms.

NOTE: Effective January 2017, the downloadable documents available on this website have undergone major updates. Before visiting this page, please review the information on the Mercer Protocol Forms and Applications page regarding the best practices for downloading and completing our IRB and IACUC documents.

Clinical Trial and Collaborative Research Questions

In addition to the application, informed consent/assent forms (if applicable), you will need to submit the data collection tool, and a permission form or letter from the external site allowing access to their patients or patient records. If the external site will also be reviewing the study through its IRB, the approval letter from the external IRB will serve as site permission.

Online Survey Research Questions

If your research involves an online survey, it must be indicated on your protocol application. If you decide to use a different online survey software, the name of the software you will be using must also be provided on your application.

Investigators who wish to speed up the survey review process may opt to use the ORC's SurveyMonkey services. When a survey request is sent to the ORC, your web consent and survey questions will be forwarded to our survey creators upon approval of your protocol.