IGDORE project: Starting our own IRB

IGDORE aims to investigate the possibilities to open our own international institutional review board (IRB) for ethical review of internal and external research projects.

While many other independent or commercial IRBs focus on a more speedy and less bureaucratic process compared with the universities and hospitals, IGDORE would indeed also strive to make the process as efficient as possible, but we would add a focus on reviewing the research project’s replicability and transparency from the perspective of the research subjects. In line with this would the IRB process and decisions be made publicly available online (i.e., no “black boxes”).

External researchers would turn to our IRB for a rigorous and state-of-the-art ethical review process, not to get a quick yes. In addition should IGDORE’s IRB meet national requirements in selected legislations where our researchers can conduct their work.

We are currently looking for researchers and academic administrators, with relevant experience and knowledge, who would be interested in working with us to (1) investigate the possibilities, and (2) set up a first IRB for IGDORE in a selected legislation.

The work would be on a volunteer basis, at least during the first phase of the project.

Interested to learn more? Please reach out to us in this thread or by email to rebecca.willen@igdore.org

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For a quick overview of problems and possibilities with IRB in US, check out this article from 2016:

I’ve served in the review board at Tilburg University and the process there was severely flawed IMO.

They ended up judging the relevance of the work (not their job) and provided little feedback to the reviewers. They also failed to safeguard the privacy of the reviews/reviewers (everyone had access to everything) and ended up gutting (AFAIK) sample size calculations.

So what my question would be: What is the main goal of the IRB in this case and what are the evaluation guidelines? The template really matters. I think there’s an opportunity for good, open, independent ethical review especially given non-academic scientists. Minimal friction will allow people to actually see some value in it.

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Welcome to the forum, Chris!

The primary goal is to offer our affiliated researchers a way to get their research ethically reviewed. This is one of the major concerns many have when considering leaving traditional academia why we want to solve this issue for them.

And if we’re anyway going to start up an IRB, then we want to build an efficient, modern, and transparent ethical review process. The guidelines to follow is yet to be created, but here are some thoughts I personally have:

  • when weighing the costs and benefits of the project one should regard not only statistical power but also whether the study has been preregistered (if not, the reason needs to be explained), whether the data, materials and report will be made publicly available (if not, the reasons need to be explained).
  • it should be possible to simply use a preregistration in the application for ethical review AND/OR use the ethical application as the preregistration. One should not have to rewrite everything to fit a certain template if all the information is already there in a well-structured way.
  • the application should be submitted digitally, preferably without having to login or sign up in a particular system.
  • the applications and decisions are made publicly available online, with the possibility for the researcher to apply for a temporary embargo (which e.g. could mean that the decision is made publicly available immediately but the application itself is not published until later).
  • members of the board come from different countries and jurisdictions which will further strengthen the quality and relevance of the board’s work by avoiding stagnation.
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Hello from Ecuador ! I was writing a new thread on an IRB topic and the system suggested your post was similar to mine. I was asking whether such a thing as a international IRB even existed and what might be the costs involved. As an independent researcher in Ecuador one of the many barriers to do research is being able to afford an IRB review process, conducted by one of the very few IRBs available. If anyone knows of a low-cost IRB willing to review international proyects, please let me know.

Thanks! María-Beatriz

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Hi Maria-Beatriz and welcome to the forum! :wave:

You, like others before, are raising an important point. Personally, I am not aware of “cheap” independent IRBs that work internationally. I know there are some in the US but I guess they work with US-based projects. The internationality aspect would definitely be an issue if such an IRB could be created, because different laws apply in different countries when it comes to research ethics and standards.

However, creating an independent IRB that could provide ethical approval for independent researchs or research conducted in tranditional academia is a interesting and thrilling project. We would really like to focus on this as a future plan for IGDORE and we are always looking for people to help out with ideas and support.

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