Login

The Importance of Institutional Review Boards in Research

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Protecting Research Participants: Mandated & Federal Regulations

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:05 Institutional Review Board
  • 0:58 Process of IRB
  • 3:41 Importance
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

If you think a researcher just runs an experiment, then you didn't know they would run the risk of losing both their position as a researcher and possibly their freedom. The importance of the Institutional Review Boards keeps them safe.

Institutional Review Board

If you talk to a doctoral student conducting research, ask them about IRB, a shorthand reference for the Institutional Review Board. If you don't know anyone like that, I can tell you that they will get wide and wild eyed and begin to mumble things that might be an ancient curse of some kind. The Institutional Review Board is tasked with reviewing accurate information about research proposals to ensure they protect human and animal rights and that they fall in line with federal, state, local, and ethical guidelines. IRB typically consists of three to five professionals in an institution, although it would not be unheard of to have more, who review research proposals of the institution. You can think of it like a job interview board and you as the applicant. Sometimes your application is enough to get you a job, while other times you might have to come in.

Process of IRB

Remember that crazy graduate student foaming at the mouth when you mentioned IRB? The reason this happens is that IRB processes can be arduous and frustrating. We will walk you through it and then discuss why it is important for the process to be in place. Remember that this is a process that can be as short as two weeks or as long as six to eight months, and anytime it is returned to you, the process starts over.

The first step of IRB is having a detailed methods section, which is how a researcher plans to conduct their experiment. This includes details such as who the subjects will be, where you will be conducting the research, how the research will be conducted, what incentives will be provided, and how you might handle possible situations that might come up. This step is usually where most graduate students' frustrations come from, since they provide insufficient information, and the IRB has to request more info.

The second step is to submit your methods section to IRB. Usually the IRB has a standard protocol form that is filled out by the researcher using their research methods. The protocol helps speed up the review process, since a moderately sized graduate school might receive dozens of protocols from students and professors. Another big issue with graduate students is not filling out the protocol form correctly, since it can be anywhere from five to twenty pages of questions requiring detailed information. If anything is incorrect, it is returned.

If the protocol has not been returned to you yet, we make it to the third and final step, IRB review. Typically, the protocol has a range of possible risk levels, starting with minimal to no risk, which usually means an archival study and you will not be interacting with people, to significant risk, which means you will be working with high-risk populations and there is a high probability of ethical concerns. Every IRB is run differently, but typically low risk ideas, such as examining prior research or surveys about normal things (my own research looked at people's evaluation of criminal evidence), can be reviewed and approved by a single member of IRB. Significant risk research, like working with pregnant women or suicidal people, requires the IRB to meet and discuss your research. They also reserve the right to have you attend a meeting to answer additional questions.

If you have approval after all of this, then you perform the experiment. If you start the experiment before you have approval, then you can be held legally and ethically liable for any issue that comes up, with a reprimand being the lightest punishment to possible jail time if harm comes to someone.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support