Resource | Brief

Understanding the Institutional Review Board

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2008

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An institutional review board (IRB) is a committee that reviews, approves, and regulates research to minimize risk to human participants.

All institutions receiving federal support for research and evaluation studies—including universities, public schools, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations—must establish IRBs.

This brief explains what an IRB does and how to determine whether your evaluation needs IRB approval. It outlines the IRB review process and the components of a research proposal. It also discusses potential eligibility for expedited review and the need for annual renewal applications.

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