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I am doing a small survey-based research project, where I need to setup surveys online. I was wondering if I needed full IRB approval before I can setup the surveys online on Qualtrics/RedCap/Google forms? (I'll of course wait after approval before sharing the survey with any human subjects that would fill in the survey)

Addenum:
It's social science research, it's a few questions from a validated survey we will be using. I'm pretty sure the protocol will be accepted. There is a visiting student for the month here and to gain time I thought he could setup the questions on Qualtrics. Would this be acceptable?

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Yes, this is quite standard. There is nothing special about setting up the survey in Qualtrics that requires IRB approval. Just be prepared to make any changes the IRB requires/recommends during the approval process.

Note that you should not SEND your survey to human subjects using Qualtircs. But taking it yourself or working through the bugs with an RA would be fine. Think about it this way - if this was a "paper survey" you would be allowed to type your survey before handing it into IRB. But you wouldn't be allowed to mail it to any subjects.

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To necessitate IRB approval work must involve human subjects and be considered research according to the following definition:

[a] systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. (Department for Health and Human Services, obtained from irb.purue.edu)

Working on the design of your surveys and testing it yourself are acceptable (i.e., taking the survey to be sure the data is being recorded as you expect). However once you move into sharing with others for research, even a pilot or feasibility administration, you should already have secured IRB approval.

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    Note that at some institutions (including where I went to graduate school) all projects must go through an IRB determination as to whether or not a project was human subjects research, rather than that decision being left to the investigator. – Fomite Sep 19 '17 at 0:19
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You should have IRB approval as soon as possible. One of the aspects of IRB approval is approving your protocol - how can you set up the surveys if you don't know if the protocol has been approved?

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  • It's social science research, it's a few questions from a validated survey we will be using. I'm pretty sure the protocol will be accepted. There is a visiting student for the month here and to gain time I thought he could setup the questions on Qualtrics. Would this be acceptable? – TheFermat Sep 19 '17 at 0:25
  • @TheFermat It depends entirely on the IRB - though given it's already a validated survey, the risk of having the IRB object to your protocol enough that that effort is wasted seems minimal. – Fomite Sep 19 '17 at 0:26
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    @TheFermat That is a question for your IRB. – Fomite Sep 19 '17 at 0:38
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    This answer doesn't make sense. Setting up the survey in Qualtrics is not different than typing it in Word in the olden days. There is not a problem with doing that prior to IRB approval. – Dawn Sep 19 '17 at 2:03
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    @Dawn Answering the more general case of "Is this a good idea" was a deliberate choice. It's been the policy of every IRB I've ever worked with that the only people who can actually say if something is acceptable to the IRB is...the IRB. So it was either that, or voting to close as unanswerable. – Fomite Sep 19 '17 at 2:26

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