Tips for IRB Submissions

  1. Carefully plan the ethical aspects of your study from the very beginning.
  2. Use the abstract section of the IRB application to summarize your study, with special attention to human subject interactions.
  3. Examine model applications and IRB review guides.
  4. If you have questions, telephone and talk with your IRB administrator.
  5. Ask yourself if you would honestly want someone you love to participate in your study.
  6. Work hard to ensure that recruitment materials yield equitable and noncoercive results.
  7. Write consent forms at an eighth-grade reading level.
  8. Overestimate risks and underestimate benefits.
  9. Educate and debrief subjects on the nature, purpose, and findings of your study.
  10. Establish procedures to delink identifying information from main data sets and sources.
  11. Establish procedures to encrypt any and all identifying information and destroy it as soon as possible.
  12. If you disagree with an IRB decision, read the regulations and then ask for an in-person meeting to discuss things.
  13. Remember that research is not a right but a privilege and IRBs are peer review groups.
  14. Use lay language in the application and explain terminology that is unique to your discipline.
  15. Remember: IRBs do not exist to frustrate researchers; they are a direct consequence of many documented violations of very basic ethical principles.

Adapted from: Oakes, Michael J. (University of Minnesota)
Risks and Wrongs in Social Science Research: An Evaluator’s Guide to the IRB;
Evaluation Review, Vol. 26 No. 5, October 2002, 443-479.