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01 June 2007

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Bill Henderson

I have dealt with IRBs at three law schools for five different projects. Each school was affiliated with a larger university, and all human subjects approvals were centralized.

Here at Indiana, before they will even consider your human subjects application, you have to take a 20-question multiple choice test and attain a passing score. Ultimately this requires an hour or two of study to review of some IRB history, federal law, and policy statements.

The most time-consuming part, however, is the writing of the protocol and the accompanying document, which varies depending upon the nature of the study. Most ELS projects will be either exempt (a status determined by the IRB, not the researcher) or expedited, but these categories still entails several hours to craft appropriate responses.

Perhaps because I have not dealt with any unreasonable officials, I have made my peace with IRBs. The process sensitizes me to privacy issues and encourages sensible planning.

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