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"The Doctoral Mind"- IRB Process

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

When it comes to successfully navigating the waters of one's own doctoral process, the IRB (Institutional Review Board), serves as a foundation of which reviews and approves applicants for research projects involving human subjects. To obtain a Ph.D or professional doctorate, the candidate will be assessed by the IRB and examined to ensure he or she is not implying harm to any selected participants. An important factor when it comes to research is the candidate making the research participants fully aware of informed consent. By doing so, the participants become aware of the parameters of the research to be conducted, and they are aware of what their participation entails. It is important for the researcher to protect the PII, or personally identifiable information, of the participant. Some examples of PII are name, address, telephone number, date of birth, etc.

As an administrative body, the IRB acts as an external or third-party board. The nature of one is to ensure that all participants are granted rights and fairness. By doing so, the IRB is responsible for conducting assessments that deem the research being conducted does not harm any participant involved. When it comes to IRB review there are three types: expedited, exempt and full board. Expedited review is implemented when a project is categorized under minimal risk, exempt review is implemented when the researcher can be excused from complying with certain regulations, and full board review is set in place when a project does not fall under expedited or exempt. In this case, the meetings are closed and not open to the public, as the research being examined could involve sensitive content, such as drugs, prisoners, classified research, etc.

The researcher must be sure that they adhere to IRB protocol when it comes to actively trying to alleviate any risk of harm towards their participants. Even though preparation can help sway adverse events, some of which can occur are the participant experiencing medical or psychological harm, along with a societal stigma implemented. Unexpected events that can occur are natural events, such as inclement weather, or personal loss of privacy towards the researcher and research participant. If unexpected or adverse events occur, it is imperative for the researcher to notify the IRB administration, as well as the participant themselves if they are unaware of such occurrences.

A common problem that some candidates may face when submitting research projects to the IRB is the lack of detail provided. In this case, the process for approval may be slowed down. It is recommended the candidate read each question in the application carefully and provide an ample amount of detail regarding their description of research. Along with the thorough completeness being a factor, the complexity of research may cause the time of approval to vary, as well.

On Wednesday, June 10th, The Scholars Editing Group will be launching their first webinar that covers the basis of the IRB process. Martina Smith will be covering unanticipated events that surround the IRB process and how to navigate such.

To register for the webinars, head over to the Scholar’s Professional Editing Group website, or click the link below.

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