The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that is formally
designated by an organization to review and monitor human subjects
research. The IRB is the key mechanism for safeguarding the rights
of juveniles, their families, and all other research participants
and for maintaining the integrity of juvenile justice research.
This committee reviews research protocols in advance of the study
and, through periodic review, assures ongoing ethical and legal
research practice. The IRB has the authority to approve, disapprove,
or require modifications to a research project. The Common Rule
requires that proposed research undergo review by a legitimate IRB
before federal funds for research can be expended.
An IRB reviews research proposals to determine if the proposed research
project follows the ethical principles and human subject regulations.
Juvenile justice professionals are responsible for insuring that all research
projects involving youth, families, or other human subjects adhere
to the ethical principles and human subject regulations.
Specified categories of low risk research are exempt from
the requirements of the Common Rule.
Researchers may propose to the IRB that a particular study is exempt from IRB
review. Researchers may not judge research as exempt. It is the
role of the IRB to determine whether or not an exemption
applies to a proposed research study.
- Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational
settings, where the research involves an evaluation of educational
strategies or techniques.
- Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic,
achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures, or observation
of public behavior.
- This exemption does not apply when subjects can be identified,
directly or indirectly, and where disclosure of the information collected
could reasonably place the subject at risk for criminal or civil liability,
or for financial or social damage.
- This exemption does not apply to research that involves children,
except for research involving observations of public behavior when
the researcher(s) does not participate in the activities being observed.
- This exemption does not apply when Federal statute requires,
without exception, that the confidentiality of the personally identifiable
information be maintained during and after the research program.
- This exemption does apply when human subjects are elected
or appointed public officials or candidates for public office even
when information is not anonymous and could place the subject at risk
for damage or liability.
- Research involving the collection or study of existing data or material,
but only if the data or material are publicly available or when the
researcher records the information with no link to the identity of
- Research and demonstration projects conducted by, or subject
to, the approval of Department or Agency heads and designed to examine
public benefit or service programs.
Even if juvenile justice organizations are involved in human subjects
research that is exempt from the Common Rule, they are not exempt
from ethical responsibilities to protect the rights and welfare
of juveniles. Organizations are obligated to practice ethical behavior
not only in research, but also in day-to-day use of youth information.