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ENC 3246: Professional Communication for Engineers

This guide provides you with information sources for the various assignments in Professional Communication for Engineers course.

Doing Research with People

It is important to know that all data collection involving people must be assessed by the UF Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior beginning any research study, including research methods like surveys, focus groups, and behavioral observations.

UF Institutional Review Board, Protecting the rights and welfare of human research subjects


The role of the IRB is to ensure that participants are protected from harm. The IRB reviews research proposals to ensure that the protocols meet ethical standards, that participants can give informed consent to have their data collected, that participant privacy will be safeguarded, and more. Many people are under the impression that the IRB is only involved in medical studies, but IRB review and ethical guidelines apply to any research study that involves people. Online surveys and asking people questions still involve people as research participants

If you want to learn more about the role of the IRB, watch the following video from the US Department of Health and Human Services. 


How IRBs Protect Human Research Participants by the US Department of Health and Human Services

Do I Need IRB Approval?

If your research study involves collecting data from or about other people, it requires IRB review and approval.


If a study is sufficiently low risk for anyone participating, the IRB may deem the research protocol "IRB Exempt." However, a researcher cannot decide on their own if a study is exempt from IRB review. The UF IRB has created an online tool to help you determine if your study is IRB Exempt with a few short yes or no questions.

Screenshot of the IRB Exempt screening tool. "Automated Determination Tools for Nonhuman and Exempt Research, and for non-medical Quality Improvement Projects"

Use the IRB Online Tool now!

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