Questions about WCU IRB? We Are Here to Help!

Guest Blogger: Dr. Mallory Ball, Director, Research Compliance & Integrity

If you are interested in research, it is likely you have heard about the IRB.  The acronym “IRB” stands for “Institutional Review Board” and is a committee established to review and approve applications for research projects involving human subjects, regardless of funding source. The IRB reviews all projects conducted at or under the auspices of WCU by WCU personnel.

Per Federal Requirements: Before participants are recruited or data is collected, the IRB must review and approve all research conducted by WCU faculty, staff, or students, regardless of funding source. Research may not begin until an approval or exemption letter is received from the IRB.

The IRB process can be somewhat intimidating when navigating it for the first time. However, the Research Compliance Office is here to help!  We have recently been updating our website to include additional options for availability as well as adding new and improved educational documents to bring clarity to this process.

Some of these updates can be seen below:

    • The Office of Research Administration hosts virtual office hours to assist investigators in answering questions related to developing and preparing IRB submissions for review from 1:00 – 2:00 pm on the first Thursday of every month. No formal appointments are necessary, just join the meeting at the scheduled time. For other days and times, please reach out to us to set up individual appointments.

For those new to the process, we have also added a Flowchart on our FAQ page to help you determine if your study falls under IRB jurisdiction (Human Subjects Research).

Please note: If you find that your research activity may not be subject to IRB approval, it is a best practice to confirm with us and obtain an official determination letter for documentation purposes.

An Image that shows the IRB process at WCU. Links to a PDF document.,

Click on Image above to open full Infographic.

Remember: WCU’s IRB uses InfoEd for all IRB submissions and the review process. Please visit the InfoEd training page for more information.

We look forward to working with you on your research endeavors and hope that you find these resources helpful, but we are always striving to improve this process for you and will always welcome your feedback! You can contact us by emailing or calling 828.227.2921.

5 Ways to Manage Burnout

No matter your status — staff, faculty, or student — if you work and you are human, you are at risk for burnout.  

The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”  

Burnout is an “occupational phenomenon” and not everyone who finds that their job no longer aligns with their values can leave, at least right away. Kira Schabram, an assistant professor of management in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington offers, “employees who cannot leave and are not getting support can still help themselves.” Here are a few examples of things to try. 

Communicate. Dr. Kim Gorman, Director and Psychologist of WCU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, recommends having a conversation with your supervisor about your burnout concerns. Having a conversation about expectations and solutions may result in a shift where work is not so burdensome. Communicating your struggle with your co-workers is also important. Dr. Gorman and her staff communicate strife and let one another know, “I need grace this week.” That sends the message to everyone that things may not go as smoothly as usual.  

It’s in the best interest of employers to face burnout head-on, since the fallout of unchecked burnout, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include fatigue, excessive stress, sadness, anger or irritability, and serious diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Alcohol and substance abuse are also consequences of job burnout. If you work in a unit where expressing such concerns is unsafe or if you fear retaliation for speaking up, heed that as a red flag. In that case, you likely need to find employment elsewhere sooner rather than later.  

Take your earned leave. Take regularly scheduled time off.  The US Travel Association reported that American workers did not use 768 million of their paid days off, losing more than $65 billon in benefits. No need to travel or spend money on your days off. Schedule regular days off and recharge at home. Watch your favorite movies, take naps, read, do whatever you need to do to recharge. If you have vacation leave hours, schedule vacation time regularly. 

Manage your calendar. Dan Rockwell, experienced leader and creator of the Leadership Freak blog, recommends putting white space on your calendar.  Dan writes, “overcommitment is sprinting into oblivion with your hair of fire.” He also suggests investing your time, energy, and talent in one or two things a day. 

Another recommendation related to calendar management offered by Dr. Kim Gorman is to “chunk out” your work outlook. For example, it may be daunting to look at the whole academic year or even a 16-week semester. Try creating chunks within those long time periods. For example, for a fall semester, this may look something like, “I can make it to Labor Day in September, and I have two vacation days scheduled in October (see take your earned leave above). Next is Thanksgiving with a couple of days off and then on to Winter break. I can make it.” 

Take breaks to do things you like.  Dr. Schabram recommends incorporating things you look forward to into your weekly routine. Make a list of a few small things you can do throughout your day that make you happy and then do them. It can be as simple as applying your favorite hand lotion three times a day, packing one of your favorite meals (here’s a balela/chickpea salad that I love) and eating lunch outdoors, or meeting a friend for a 5-minute walk around your building once or twice a day. 

Show compassion for self and others. Dr. Pope-Ruark writes, “practicing self-compassion, taking the time to regulate and honestly check in with ourselves with the same kindness we would offer others, is necessary to ward off or work through burnout” (p. 125). Dr. Schabram’s research shows that having compassion for yourself and others reduces feelings of burnout. Dr. Kristin Neff, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology Dept., University of Texas at Austin and co-creator of Mindful Self-compassion training program offers several practices including self-compassion exercises. Examples include supportive touch, self-compassion breaks (see take breaks to do things you like above), and self-compassion journaling. 

Consider the questions below.

What are things you would like to incorporate into your weekly routine that brighten your day? 

What calendar management changes can you reasonably try? 

Which self-compassion practices seem doable to you? 




Center for Mindful Self-compassion. 

Mayo Clinic. (2021, June 5). Job burnout: How to spot it and take action. 

Pope-Ruark, R. (2022). Unraveling faculty burnout: Pathways to reckoning and renewal. Johns Hopkins University Press. 

Rockwell, D. (2023, February 24). 4 ways to do less and get more done today. Leadership Freak. 

US Travel Association (2019, August 16). Study: A record 768 million US vacation days went unused in ‘18, opportunity cost in the billions. 

World Health Organization. (2019, May 28). Burnout an “occupational phenomenon”: International classification of diseases. 

Zuckerman, C. (2021, April 30). How to beat Burnout without quitting your job. New York Times.