Volunteering in Research

Overview of Volunteering in Research

Stony Brook University supports medical advances for our patients through safe and ethical research involving volunteers from our surrounding community. Stony Brook University is accredited through the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP), and has an approved assurance of compliance with the Federal Office for Human Research Protections.

These pages are intended to provide more information on what it means to be a research subject, as well as how to participate in approved research studies conducted at Stony Brook University. 

Who do I contact if I have concern/question about a study in which I am volunteering?

As an additional effort to protect research subjects, if you are already a research participant, the ORC welcomes input and concerns regarding our Research Compliance program. 

To express a concern, pose a question, or to report possible noncompliance for a study you are volunteering for, please email Judy Matuk, Assistant VP for Research Compliance, at judy.matuk@stonybrook.edu OR post anonymously to Stony Brook University on the website: http://www.solvanon.com/  

All reports are reviewed and serve as one mechanism to investigate concerns/complaints regarding human subject research, investigators, and even the IRB process. 

Clinical Trials at Stony Brook

​The Office of Clinical Trials at Stony Brook provides information and resources for those wanting to volunteer in research. 

ClinicalTrials.gov is a registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world. 


Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is a Research Study?

A research study is a very careful way of looking at something and collecting data about what is being looked at.  It can be something as simple as asking questions, giving a survey or looking at a particular behavior.  On the other hand, it can be more complicated and may look at a specific disease.  When a researcher is looking at a disease or at a treatment for a health problem, the research study is frequently called a clinical trial.  

What is a research subject?

A research subject is a person who decides to participate in a research study.  This is completely voluntary.  You are helping the researcher look at the questions he/she wants to study.  You can quit the study any time you want to. 

What is a protocol? 

All research studies follow a protocol.  A protocol is like a cookbook.  It tells the researcher what can and cannot be done when he/she is conducting the study.  All this is done to protect the research subject and this protocol is reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Can anyone be in a research study?

Each study has a list of who can and cannot be included in that study.  This is written in the protocol.  In order to protect research subjects only people who qualify can be in the study. 

What is a PI?

The PI, or Principal Investigator, is the person who conducts the research study. The PI is also the person who is responsible for making sure everything is done properly. Along with the PI, there may be other persons who help with the study.  For example, if it is a medical study, there may be a nurse involved in conducting the study.  There are also people who look at all the data that is collected in the study and other individuals involved in operating the study.

What is an IRB?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is made up of a group of people such as scientists, doctors and some community people.  The IRB looks at every protocol or research study before it is conducted on any people. Because some research studies involve risk, the IRB looks at the study to make sure the risks are justified and minimized.  In addition, the IRB wants to make sure  the Principal Investigator follows all the rules the federal government has set up to protect human subjects who so kindly volunteer to participate in a research study.

What is an Informed Consent?

If you decided to volunteer in a research study, the facts of the study will be given to you in a consent form.  This is to help you understand exactly what will happen to you in the research study.  It is designed to help you make up your mind about participating, or not participating, in the study.  The informed consent will outline all the rights you have as a volunteer in a research study. 

Giving a research subject a consent form to read is a helpful process because it gives you enough time to ask as many questions you want to about your voluntary participation in the study.  You will be told about all the risks, any benefits that may exist and even alternative options to the study. 

After reading the consent you can make your final decision about participating in the proposed study.

Volunteer in Research

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