Authorizing Official Responsibilities

The research authorization process at Grand Valley consists of a university designated person that assumes responsibility for assuring the following considerations:

  1. Proposed study is feasible: the researcher and supporting department or program have sufficient time and materials to complete the project as planned and described in the proposal.
  2. PI is appropriately qualified: the researcher(s) and other key personnel are appropriately qualified to supervise and/or conduct this study safely such that risks to participants are minimized.
  3. Data are secure: the department has the resources to implement the data security provisions described in the proposal.
  4. Scientific validity is assured: the study design, procedures and methods of data analysis meet the relevant discipline’s standards for scientific merit & validity for academic research.
  5. Procedures are followed: the researcher has met all college, department and program requirements for review and approval of this research.
  6. Permissions sought: appropriate permissions to access private information for research purposes will be secured.
  7. Non-compliance is reported: direct knowledge of noncompliance on the part of the research team will be reported to the ORCI.


Determining the Authorizing Official

IRB procedures require that all proposed research protocols must be authorized by a responsible GVSU administrative authority prior to IRB review and approval. IRB review of proposed research will not be initiated until signatures from all required authorizing officials (AO) have been recorded on IRBManager.

  • Deans: the AO is the Provost or his/her designee.
  • Unit heads: the AO is the appointing Dean or the Dean's designee.
  • Faculty members: the AO is the academic unit head or his/her designee.
  • Staff members: the AO is the unit head or program supervisor.
  • Students: the AO is their research project faculty advisor, who may be different from their academic advisor. In some academic units student investigators must secure authorization to conduct independent research from both their research advisor and the appropriate unit head. Students should consult with their research advisor to determine which authorizations are required.
  • Research involving teams of GVSU varsity student athletes: authorization from the head athletic trainer is required in addition to all other authorizing official signatures.

Best Practices for AO Review

  • Face-to-face meeting(s) with researcher to review proposed research
  • Review all research materials prior to submission to the IRB
  • Once submitted, review materials to ensure final versions are authorized
  • Electronically sign submission to confirm authorization to proceed
  • Ensure timely response to correspondence, notifications, and determinations issued by the IRB or ORCI staff related to authorized research 

Important Considerations

  • Student researchers must determine whether an activity is covered research in consultation with their research advisor/AO. They may not make this determination alone.
  • Faculty and staff researchers may not authorize their own research. If serving as a co-PI for student research, the faculty/staff designated AO must provide authorization.
  • Delays in authorizing research submitted to the IRB may result in administrative withdrawal. Please be responsive to ORCI staff correspondence.
  • See policy 330.Authorization to Conduct Research