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For Participants

At the NC State University IRB, we provide information and guidance to help people navigate the process of ethical research with humans. Research participants across decades in the U.S. have helped in the discovery of groundbreaking medical treatments, important cultural phenomena, and the best evidence-based professional practices in many fields. Being a participant in any research study is always strictly voluntary and much appreciated by researchers and the world. While research is important, our job as the NC State University IRB office is to ensure that your rights and well-being are protected in the research process.

A research study is a very careful way of looking at something and collecting data in order to answer a specific question aiming to inform or solve a problem. Research can be done with or without the involvement of humans. Regulated research with living humans at NC State University is supervised by the Institutional Review Board (IRB); research with vertebrate animals that aren’t humans at NC State is supervised by the IACUC.

It depends on what the research study is trying to learn. Some research studies will ask you questions, have you do an activity, or study your body or its reactions. You will always be told what you will be doing in the research study — and why — before you participate in the research. You can either agree to do those activities by participating in the research, or decline to do those activities and not participate in the research. You always have the right to say “no” to participating in any research. Whatever decision you make will not affect your access to the resources or benefits that you would normally have.

Before any research with humans begins, the NC State University IRB reviews all research plans to ensure that the proposed research is safe, legal, and ethical. If during the research process, you ever feel unsafe or treated in an unlawful or unethical manner, please contact NC State University IRB Director at or 919.515.8754 — or fill out this confidential online form; the IRB Director takes these feelings and experiences very seriously.

Some people enjoy participating in research because they enjoy the research activity, learn something new about themselves or like helping others. Some people dislike participating in research because the research process takes time, may ask personal questions, or has you do something new or different than what you would normally do. Both perspectives and opinions are valid. Our goal is that you have the knowledge you need to make the best choice for you regarding participating or not participating in research.

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.

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

Optional Questions to Ask the Researcher(s):  

Not every question will apply to every study

  • Who is doing the study, and what questions might it answer?
  • Who reviewed or approved this study to be done?
  • What could happen to my body, emotional health, reputation, or environment if I take part in this study?
  • What tests or procedures will I experience during the study?
  • How long will this study last, and how much time will I spend as a participant in the study?
  • If I decide to participate, how will my participation affect my daily life?
  • Will I be charged anything or paid anything to be in this study?
  • Can I get the same information, education, or treatment without being in the study?
  • Who will be told that I am taking part in this study, and what information will they receive about me?
  • What happens to any specimens (e.g., blood, body tissues, urine) or information (e.g., thoughts, feelings, opinions, attitude) that I give as a part of this study?
  • Will my information or specimens be given to any other researchers, and will my name be associated with it?
  • What happens after the study ends?
  • Will I be told the results of the study?
  • How do I stop participating in the study if I change my mind?
  • What other options do I have if I decide not to take part in this study?
  • Whom do I contact for questions and information about the study?
  • Whom do I contact for questions about my rights as a participant?

NC State University Research Opportunities

National Research Opportunities

NC State University encourages anyone interested in volunteering for research studies to register with ResearchMatch, a secure, easy-to-use volunteer registry funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers from academic institutions like NC State University use ResearchMatch to find volunteers who are a “match” for their study. ResearchMatch has a simple goal – to bring together two groups of people who are looking for one another:

  • 1. People who are trying to find research studies, and
  • 2. Researchers who are looking for people to participate in their studies.

People of all ages and health conditions, including healthy people, are welcome to join. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be registered by a parent or guardian.  ResearchMatch is a confidential, free, and secure registry that has been developed to involve you in its mission to help improve health and wellbeing through research.

Why join ResearchMatch?

  • Reduce the time that you spend searching for research studies that you qualify for
  • Improve your chances of being matched with research studies that interest you
  • Get involved in a national group of volunteers that might help improve the positive health impacts of future research for everyone

Registration is free and takes 5 to 10 minutes. By registering with ResearchMatch, you are not registering to participate in any particular study. Registration lets you indicate your willingness to be contacted about studies that may be a good fit for you. 

Your name and personal information are not released to any research team until you indicate you would like to know more about their research study.

Before you start participating in research, you should be told how you can stop. How you can stop depends on the methods employed by the researcher, but here are a few examples:

  • To stop your participation in online surveys, close the internet browser you are using.
  • For in-person surveys and activities, leave the room or building you are in, or tell the researcher you want to stop.

After finishing the online or in-person activities, if you do not want the researcher to use the information they collected about you, contact the researcher and tell them. Their name, email, and phone number will be listed on the informed consent document or screen page. Removing your data from a data set is possible in most cases — but not always.

If you want to talk with someone about the research process and activities, contact the researcher; if the researcher is an NC State University student, reach out to the faculty point of contact. Both of these individuals are listed on the informed consent document that you will be given prior to participating in the research.

To report an issue or problem with the research or a researcher, please contact NC State University IRB Director Jennie Ofstein at or 919.515.8754, or fill out the confidential form below.