Participant Information Page

Welcome! The University of New Mexico is committed to assuring that all human research activities are conducted ethically while promoting the rights and welfare of participants.

Are you considering joining a research study? This page has information to help you decide. If you are currently a study participant, this page also contains information about providing feedback or voicing a concern or complaint.

What is an IRB?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a group of people who review human research to assure that it will be done in a way that protects the rights, safety, and welfare of research participants. The IRB reviews the entire study including the informed consent process and document to ensure it provides enough information about the research in terms prospective participants can understand. If the board feels the risks of harm and the benefits of the research are reasonable and the study meets the approval criteria set forth by federal regulation, the IRB will approve the research and continue to provide oversight until its completion.

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

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

full accredidation sealUNM 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 accreditation, UNM has demonstrated its commitment to rigorous ethical standards that help protect research participants while ensuring that society continues to benefit from research.

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 (OIRB) at (505) 277-2644 or by email at To offer feedback about your experience in a research study, 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:

Participant Frequently Asked Questions

Answer: Here are some resources from the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) that explain different aspects of research that may help you make a decision about being a research participant:

Informational Videos

Questions to Ask (English)

Questions to Ask (Spanish)

Answer: Thousands of research studies are conducted each year all over the world. 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 a 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. We urge you to review this information and discuss it with other people you trust.

Answer: 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.

Answer:  Participating in research is completely voluntary and there is no penalty for withdrawing.  If you decide you no longer want to participate, notify the research team using the contact information provided in the consent form.

Answer:  There may or may not be a direct benefit to you if you take part in a research study.  The informed consent document will provide you information about any possible benefits.  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.

Answer: If the study you participated in is compensating you and you have not received that compensation, please contact the study team directly. Only contact the OIRB if you are not able to resolve it directly.

Answer:  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.

Answer: It is important for you to communicate any issue to the PI or research team.  Complaints about the way a study is conducted can also be reported directly to the OIRB. We will document and investigate your complaint. Participant safety is our top priority.