Local IRBs vs. Federal Agencies: Shifting Dynamics, Systems, and Relationships

Klitzman, Robert L.

How IRBs relate to federal agencies, and the implications of these relationships, have received little, if any, systematic study. I interviewed 46 IRB chairs, directors, administrators, and members, contacting the leadership of 60 U.S. IRBs (every fourth one in the list of the top 240 institutions by NIH funding), interviewing IRB leaders from 34 (response rate=55%). IRBs describe complex direct and indirect relationships with federal agencies that affect IRBs through audits, guidance documents, and other communications, and can generate problems and challenges. Researchers often blame IRBs for frustrations, but IRBs often serve as the “local face” of federal regulations and agencies and are “stuck in the middle.” These data have critical implications for policy, practice, and research.


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Also Published In

Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics

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July 6, 2020