Institutional review board

Ethics committee, IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are committees that are set up by organizations to review the technical and ethical dimensions of a research or evaluation project. 

Evaluators often question whether they should put their evaluations to an IRB or not. In the field of academia and research, the answer is a clear - yes. In the field of evaluation, it is less clear. However, if your evaluation is going to directly interview people, especially vulnerable populations (children, incarcerated people, pregnant people, people with disabilities) you will likely want to ensure an IRB review of your terms of reference or evaluation protocol.

Often a donor or your own organization will have guidance for you and when you need to submit your evaluation to an IRB

If you are using publically available data or de-identified data an IRB is often not required. 


With permission from James Bell Associates. (2008). Evaluation Brief: Understanding the IRB. Arlington, VA. January 2008

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