Procedures for Human Subject Research


This section relates to human research studies that will provide payments to participants or subjects for either:

a) expenses that will incur as a result of participation (i.e., travel related costs) or 

b) payments to compensate subjects for their willingness to participate in the research study.


All plans to compensate participants/subjects in research studies must receive prior approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB).



Human research relies on volunteers to participate in studies. It is not uncommon for a researcher to reimburse subjects for travel or other expenses that they may incur as a result of participation in a study. Some studies may also offer compensation as a means to attract volunteers.

The IRB reviews all proposed plans for reimbursement or compensation provided to subjects to ensure that such payments are not coercive or provide the potential for undue influence. Another consideration of the IRB, particularly for research involving the collection of sensitive data, is that the confidentiality of the subject(s) is protected. Custodians of Human Subject Petty Cash Funds should follow all IRB, HIPPA and Federal guidelines as required.

Columbia University has developed this policy to provide a standard process to handle compensation of research subjects through Petty Cash and to protect the confidentiality of subjects, to the extent allowable by law, during the reimbursement process.