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Participant Portal

Welcome! The University of New Mexico is committed to assuring that all its research activities are conducted in a way that promotes the rights and welfare of its participants.

Are you considering joining a research project? This page has information to help you make that decision. Also, below is information about submitting a concern or complaint and completing a participant feedback survey.

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OIRB Contact

Questions, Feedback, and Complaints

If you are a prospective or current participant and would like to speak with someone unaffiliated with a specific research study in order to ask questions about participating in research, obtain information about participating in research, or offer input, please contact the Office of the IRB at (505) 277-2644 or by email at IRBmaincampus@unm.edu. To offer feedback about your experience in a research project, please complete the Feedback Form.

If you have concerns about the way a study is being conducted at UNM or by UNM researchers, please tell us (anonymously, if you choose) by:

  • Contacting the UNM Office of the IRB at IRBMainCampus@unm.edu or 505-277-2644.
  • Contacting the UNM Compliance Hotline at unm.ethicspoint.com or 1-888-899-6092.
  • Completing the Online Complaint Form.

What is an IRB?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a group of people who review research to assure that it will be done in a way that protects the rights, safety, and welfare of research participants. IRBs review the informed consent process and document to ensure it provides enough information about the research in terms you can understand, so that you can decide whether or not you want to participate. If the board feels the research meets the criteria set forth by the federal government for IRB approval, they will approve the research. Sometimes they require changes to the research, the recruitment strategy, and/or the informed consent document. The IRB continues to provide oversight of the research until its completion.

When reviewing research, the IRB considers the following points, among other things, prior to granting approval of the research:

  • The possible risks versus possible benefits of the study.
  • The methods the research team will use to protect the privacy of participants in the study.
  • The procedures to ensure that research participants are fully informed of their rights and that research participation is voluntary.
 

 

UNM joins an elite group of organizations in achieving full accreditation of its Human Research Protections Program (HRPP) from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP). In achieving full AAHRPP accreditation, UNM has demonstrated its commitment to rigorous ethical standards that help protect research participants while ensuring that society continues to benefit from research.

 

Participant Frequently Asked Questions

What is a research study?

A research study is an organized activity to learn more about a problem or answer questions. Researchers conduct many different kinds of studies. For example, a research study may test if a treatment is safe and effective. A research study may be done to determine the best way to prevent an illness or to learn about the brain and understand why certain people respond better to certain treatments. A research study may use a survey to study social networks and social media use. A research study may have an interview to understand feelings people have about their community or certain topics.  A research study can be anything from testing a new drug in humans to conducting focus groups to better understand the impact of immigration policies.

Should I take part in a research study?

Thousands of research studies are conducted each year. These research studies have contributed to scientific advances, innovative therapies and health improvements for many people from every walk of life.

None of these advances would be possible without people willing to volunteer to take part in research study. You may be asked to volunteer for a research study approved by this IRB. This webpage was created to help you understand your rights as a research study volunteer. It will help you to decide if you should take part in a research study and some of what is needed for a good research study. We urge you to review this information and discuss it with other people you trust.

Who will see my information?

The information collected in a research study is considered confidential. Information will be given only to the people who need it to help conduct the study. This includes researchers and staff who carry out the research study. This may also include the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the company or group funding the research study, and various government oversight agencies (such as FDA). It is important for these groups to be able to look at research records, so they can ensure that the research study is conducted using acceptable research practices.  In most cases, your name and other identifiable information is removed from the data and replaced with a unique study identification number (study ID) to help protect your confidentiality.

Why should I volunteer for a research study?

There are many reasons to participate in research study. You may want to:

  • Help people who are sick or find a cure for an illness
  • Help find ways to provide better treatments
  • Help scientists find out more about human behavior and how the body and brain work
  • Contribute to science/general knowledge

If you decide to take part in a research study, you do so as a VOLUNTEER. That means YOU decide whether or not you will take part. If you choose to do so, you have many important rights.

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is the process of learning the important information about a research study before you decide whether or not to volunteer. Your agreement to volunteer should be based upon knowing what will take place in the research study and how it might affect you. Informed consent begins when the research staff explains the facts to you about the research study.

The research staff will assist you with the "informed consent form" that goes over these facts so you can decide whether or not you want to take part in the research study. These facts include details about the research study, tests or procedures you may be asked to perform, the benefits and risks that could result, and your rights as a research volunteer.

Are there benefits to being in a research study?

There may or may not be a direct benefit to you if you take part in a research study. For example, most studies about education practices or understanding behavior do not have direct benefit to study participants.  These are usually minimal risk studies. Some studies that involve treatment or a novel intervention may have direct benefit. No one can predict what will happen with a research study or how it might affect you. The research study may not help you personally. The research study may result in information that will help others in the future.

Are there risks of being harmed in a research study?

Sometimes research procedures and treatments may cause discomfort and bad side effects. The questions being asked could make you uncomfortable. The risks and side effects of the research study may not be known completely when you start the research study.  Sometimes the only risk is the loss of confidentiality of the data. The research staff will discuss with you known possible risks so you can decide if you want to volunteer. If you do volunteer, the research staff will tell you about any new risks that they learn about during the research study for as long as you take part in the research study.

What questions should I ask before I agree to take part in a research study?

Before you decide to volunteer to take part in a research study, you need to know as much as possible about the research study. If there are any issues that concern you, be sure to ask questions. You might want to write your questions down in advance or take this booklet with you. The following is a list of sample questions. Not every question will apply to every research study.

  • Who is doing this research study and what question might it answer?
  • Will this research study help in understanding my condition? If so, how?
  • What tests or procedures will be done?
  • Who have access to my private information?
    Will I have to make extra trips to UNM?
  • What could happen to me, good and bad, if I take part in the research study?
  • How long will this research study last?
  • What will happen to any specimens that I give?
  • Who has reviewed and approved this research study?
  • What other options or choices do I have if I decide not to take part in this research study?
  • Will I be charged anything or paid anything to be in this research study?
  • What will happen to me at the end of the research study?
  • Will I be told the results of the research study?
  • Who will find out that I am taking part in this research study?
  • How do I end my participation in this research study if I change my mind?
  • Whom do I contact for questions and information about the research study?

Remember, if you do not understand the answer to any of your questions, ask again. Ask the person to explain the answer in a way you can understand it. If you forget the answers to the questions during the research study, just ask them again.

What if I do not want to take part in a research study?

If anyone asks you to take part in a research study, you have the right to say "no."