3 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your IRB

Meghan Hosely
August 13th, 2019

In a fast-paced clinical trial atmosphere, deadlines and schedules are tight and need to be met. Oftentimes, however, studies in motion come to a screeching halt once the Principal Investigator (PI) sends their study in for approval to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB sends back their corrections, which can be interpreted as a roadblock for PIs. The cycle of submitting a study, only to receive corrections back in return, can cause a sense of disconnect between PIs and the IRB.

Mitigating tension with your IRB comes down to communication. This can make all the difference in your experience conducting research. Here are a few tips and tricks you can implement today in order to streamline the approval process.

Communicate in person

We all have busy schedules. Between running studies and making sure everything is going smoothly across the board, it can be hard to find time to meet with your IRB if you have any questions for them. However, there are benefits of finding time to sit down with your IRB face-to-face.

Arranging an in-person meeting with the IRB shows you’re willing to take the time out of your schedule to work with them and learn more about what they need from you. It also gives you a chance to explain your study in depth and discuss any of the edits the IRB might give back.

As trust is built between you and your IRB, it becomes easier to communicate issues and foresee upcoming barriers, which helps keep your trial on schedule.

Communicate early

When you are getting ready to submit your study for approval, make sure to block out some time to review your study for possible issues that could arise so you can bring those concerns to the IRB. It might seem like an extra step, however, communicating early on in the research process with the IRB could ultimately save you more time in the end.

Communicating early to your IRB with questions or potential issues that come up will help in the long run, bringing you one step closer to gaining approval of your research. The earlier you go to your IRB about potential risks and issues, the more you are able to plan for any sort of delays in the approval process. Or in the best-case scenario, it can help eliminate delays altogether, since the issue is taken care of up front.

Communicate often

There’s no such thing as communicating too much with your IRB. If you don’t know what corrections your IRB is looking for, guessing will only delay the approval process, thus delaying the start of research altogether.

With clear communication from your IRB, you’ll have a better understanding of the rationale behind their edits. If you don’t understand why there are corrections, talking with your IRB will not only help you on this particular research study, but can also help you in future research studies, since you’ll know a little more about what the IRB is looking for.

Ultimately, you should be able to work with your IRB to move your trial along. With clear and consistent communication between both parties, over time, positive interactions between you and your IRB will become commonplace.