Ethical Principles Guiding Institutional Review Board Procedures

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An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an independent institutional body responsible for overseeing the ethical conduct of research involving human subjects in the United States (U.S.).

Given the importance of research ethics, government agencies, universities, and other research organizations have adopted specific rules and regulations guiding the ethical conduct of research. In the U.S., the passage of the National Research Act of 1974 led to the establishment of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research.​1​ The Commission published the Belmont Report, which outlined the basic ethical principles and guidelines for biomedical and behavioral research involving human subjects.​2​ The regulations that govern the protection of human subjects in research are based on three ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report: (1) Respect for Persons, (2) Beneficence/Non-Maleficence, and (3) Justice.​2​

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Three Core Principles of Ethical Research

Due to the critical role and steps involved in obtaining IRB approval, we offer a separate training that should be taken in conjunction with this one. The CONVERGE Institutional Review Board (IRB) Procedures and Extreme Events Research Training Module provides an overview of the history of and ethical principles informing the IRB, guidance on how to submit an application, and challenges and recommendations for improving these procedures.

  1. 1.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Tuskegee Changed Research Practices. CDC. Published 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/after.htm

  2. 2.
    Office for Human Research Protections. Belmont Report.; 1979:1-10. https://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/regulations-and-policy/belmont-report/read-the-belmont-report/index.html