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Research for International Students

The ways research is conceived, approved, conducted, and reported in the U.S. may differ from how it is done in other countries. This guide describes those processes and some of the context for them.

The approval you need depends on the type of research you are doing.

If you are doing...

  • library research, you do not need approval unless your professor requires it. (Some professors check that you will be able to find enough information about your topic. It will be hard to do the assignment if few people publish on your topic. Some professors check that your topic is appropriate for the theme of the assignment.)
  • an experiment with people, you will need your professor's help. Your professor will need to send your proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB can approve your proposal, ask you to revise your proposal, or reject your proposal.
  • a project collecting data about people, you will need your professor's help. Your professor will need to send your proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB can approve your proposal, ask you to revise your proposal, or reject your proposal.
  • an experiment with animals, you will need permission to do the project. You will need to send your proposal to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The IACUC can approve it, ask you to revise it, or reject it.

These approvals can take time (weeks or months). Plan ahead. You can keep working on the library research part of your project while you wait for approval. Search for more articles, books, and other sources. Take notes about your sources. Think more about your project.

Work with Your Professor or Thesis Advisor

At MCPHS, all research studies done by students must be supervised by a faculty member. You cannot submit a research proposal on your own.  Your professor or thesis advisor will guide you as you write your research proposal. They will submit the proposal for you.

Prepare

Before you begin your experiment, you need to prepare a thorough plan for your project. You will also need to prepare a justification for the project. Your professor or thesis advisor may ask you to fill out a form. They may ask you several questions about your project. All of that hard work will make sure the project you do is feasible and will give you useful results. 

Take Training

Your professor or thesis advisor will also make sure you have the right training to do your project. For example, you may need to take a course about doing research on humans. You will need this training if you will be interacting with humans. You will need this training if you will be collecting data about humans. The training helps you think about how you interact with your research participants. The training helps you understand how to follow U.S. laws about research on humans. Your professor will make sure that you get enrolled in the course.

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