The Juvenile Justice Professional's Guide to
Human Subjects Protection and the IRB Process
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IRB Membership
Federalwide Assurance
IRB Membership
IRB Meetings
IRB Voting
IRB Research Review Process
Types of IRB Review
Issues Relevant to the IRB Review Process
Modificationof Amendment of the Research Project
Project Suspension or Termination
Re-certification of Research Project
Non-compliance with Human Subjects Regulations
Assurance and Educational Training
 
An IRB is comprised of qualified men and women who have no vested interest in the research study or its outcomes. Their responsibility is to assure that all research studies are ethical and justified.

The Common Rule stipulates that an IRB must have at least five members with varied backgrounds, at least one member being a non-scientist, at least one member whose primary concerns are in scientific areas, and at least one member who is not otherwise affiliated with the institution and who is not part of the immediate family of a person who is affiliated with the institution. An IRB may have as many members as needed for it to carry out its responsibilities effectively. Membership should be diverse in regards to race, gender, culture, and profession to promote sensitivity to issues and to promote respect for its advice and counsel in safeguarding the rights and welfare of research participants.


Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (28 CFR Part 46) regulates the establishment of an institution’s IRB. This chart provides an overview of the composition of an Institutional Review Board, as detailed in the Institutional Review Board Guidebook published by the Office for Protection from Research Risks (OHRP).

The IRB must include persons knowledgeable about the acceptability of proposed research in terms of institutional commitments and regulations, applicable law, and standards of professional conduct and practice. Because research with juvenile justice departments involves children who are classified by the Common Rule as vulnerable subjects, the IRB must consider including one or more persons who are knowledgeable about and experienced in working with youth in the justice system. The IRB may also invite individuals with competence in special areas, such as learning disabilities or quantitative analyses, to assist in the review of issues; however, these individuals are not voting members.

One of the most important steps in establishing and maintaining an IRB is selecting the individual who will function as a chair. The IRB chairperson is primarily responsible for ensuring that the IRB is respected throughout the institution. The person selected as chair should be highly regarded by individuals within and outside the agency and fully capable of managing the IRB and the issues brought before it with impartiality.

Any IRB member who has conflicting interests in a research project may not participate in its review. A list of IRB members must be submitted to the Office of Human Resource Protections (OHRP).

Each IRB must have a Chair, a Deputy Chair, and a Research Administrator. The selection and tenure of each position are determined by the organization. Each position has specific job responsibilities.
  • IRB Chair
    The IRB Chair serves as the head of the IRB, leading the IRB through review and discussion regarding proposed research projects. He or she is also responsible for conducting the expedited IRB review process when appropriate, which includes preparing the information and documentation necessary to fully explain the basis of his or her decision regarding the proposed research project.
  • IRB Deputy Chair
    The IRB Deputy Chair fulfills the responsibilities of the IRB Chair when the IRB Chair is unavailable.
  • IRB Research Administrator
    The IRB Research Administrator is responsible for providing new IRB members with introductory materials relating to the policies and procedures of the IRB. He or she is also responsible for preparing an agenda for each IRB review meeting and providing IRB members with the documentation necessary to completely and adequately review all proposed research projects scheduled for the meeting. The major function of this position is to maintain all records regarding the administration and activities of the IRB, including but not limited to the following:
    • All correspondence, records and documentation regarding the recruitment, review and selection of IRB members.
    • All minutes and agendas of IRB meetings.
    • All records pertaining to each research project including but not limited to any documentation reviewed by the IRB, correspondence, and minutes of IRB meetings addressing the project. The IRB Research Administrator must maintain records for each research project in a separate file.
    • A secure database containing current information about all research projects reviewed, including project titles, assigned IRB numbers, approved staff, current approval status and the dates of IRB approval.

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