The Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Research Participant Protection was established to ensure the ethical conduct of research involving human participants. It is the responsibility of the IRB to assure the university that human participants used in research or educational programs are not at undue risk and that the participants are informed of any risks.
The IRB is a committee of appointed volunteers (both university and non-university representatives) who review and approve the use of human participants in research projects. The IRB meets on a regular basis. IRB meetings are open to investigators and the public.
When the review has been completed, the IRB will notify the researcher and also notify the sponsor, if required. The university will not release funds for a project involving human participants that does not have IRB approval. Further, some federal agencies require assurance that a project has IRB approval before an application will even be reviewed for funding.
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) oversees UWF’s use of animals. UWF embraces the principles set forth in the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PDF) and the Guide to Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Research Council).
UWF's policy and guidelines on the use of biohazards and their disposal can be found on the UWF Environmental Services web site or call 850-474-2525.
UWF's policy and guidelines on the use of radioactive materials and radiation-producing devices can be found on the UWF Environmental Services web site or call 850-474-2525.
Projects which involve classified information (security clearance access) or which deal with information, materials, and activities which may be subject to export control regulations must follow specific guidelines. See Export Control for more information.
The university's faculty is made up of highly trained professionals, many of them of national and international reputation, representing a substantial reservoir of human resources. Services of this group are available to the various sectors of society for the mutual benefit of industry, government, the academic community and society at large. Outside employment and activities are encouraged, provided they do not detract from the full and competent performance of a faculty member's duties. In light of this, faculty whose activities are paid from grants or contracts should be aware of potential conflict of interest situations.
The university's policy on conflict of interest is found in UWF policy HR-15.00 Employee Code of Ethics (PDF) and applicable collective bargaining agreements. In addition, Academic Affairs has information and forms pertaining to faculty Conflict of Interest and Outside Employment Policy.
Federal regulations require that the university manage, reduce, or eliminate any actual or potential conflicts of interest that may be presented by the compensated outside activities and other financial interests of persons involved in sponsored research projects funded by federal agencies. In addition, granting agencies may have their own conflict of interest requirements which must be adhered to. These federal regulations are designed to prevent bias in the design, conduct, or reporting of research projects.
Any investigator submitting a proposal to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or National Science Foundation (NSF) must report any "Significant Financial Interest" that would reasonably appear to be affected by the proposed or funded research activities, including interests maintained in entities that would be so affected. An investigator is defined as the Principal Investigator (PI), co-PI, or any other employee responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting the proposed or funded research or educational activities. For the purpose of determining a Significant Financial Interest, an investigator also includes an employee's spouse and dependent children.
A "Significant Financial Interest" refers to salary or other payments for services, such as consulting fees and honoraria; equity interests, such as stocks and stock options; and intellectual property rights, such as patents, copyrights, and royalties. A Significant Financial Interest does not refer to salary or other remuneration from the university; income derived from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements sponsored by public or nonprofit entities; income derived from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or nonprofit entities; or salary, royalties or other payments that, when aggregated for the investigator and his or her spouse and dependent children, is not expected to exceed $10,000 over a 12 month period, for example. An equity interest that, when aggregated for the investigator, spouse, and dependent children, does not exceed $10,000 and does not represent more than a five-percent ownership interest in any entity is also not considered a Significant Financial Interest.
Significant Financial Interests must be disclosed at the time of the submission of the proposal, but approval of the outside activities and financial interests (with conditions if warranted) need not occur until the project has been funded. The federal regulations also require that the disclosures be made annually during the course of the research, or as new reportable significant financial interests are obtained. The employee must file a new report if a new Significant Financial Interest is obtained consistent with the university's requirement that any material changes to outside activities and financial interests must be reported during the academic year. Review and approval or disapproval of the interests disclosed during the course of a research project must be accomplished prior to initiating the performance.
The department chair/supervisor and the dean/director are responsible for reviewing each disclosure to determine if there is a potential conflict of interest. Under the federal regulations, a conflict will be deemed to exist if a Significant Financial Interest may directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of the research. The university, through the department chair/supervisor and dean/director, is required to manage, reduce or eliminate the conflict. Conditions that might be imposed in such cases include public disclosure of the conflict, modification of the research design, or monitoring of the research by independent reviewers. If adequate measures are not feasible, the employee may have to discontinue the compensated activities, divest himself or herself of the financial interest, or discontinue the research. The employee must abide by the conditions under which the research is permitted.
In order to certify compliance with these federal regulations, RSP procedures requires that all investigators and other key personnel on DHHS, NSF and United States Department of Education (U.S. ED) proposals complete and sign a Conflict of Interest/Outside Employment Disclosure Form before the proposal is submitted by RSP. The form should be part of the package submitted for review and approval through the usual departmental, college and unit approval process using the Internal Routing Form (IRF) (Word). It is the PI's responsibility to ensure that Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Form (Word) for all investigators (including co-PIs and other employees responsible for the design, conduct, and reporting of the research) are obtained on a timely basis in order to meet proposal application deadlines.
Regardless of whether or not a conflict exists, the proposal will be submitted to the agency. The form is kept on file in RSP and is not sent to the agency. However, an institutional certification that the university's policy is active and in compliance with the federal regulation will be transmitted to the agency.