IRB: Ethics & Human Research

Determining the Costs of Institutional Review Boards

We developed a survey instrument to estimate the true cost of operating an institutional review board and used it to collect information on resources used by academic IRBs in the United States.  We applied standard “prices” and calculated total monetary costs.  Then we conducted site visits with a subset of institutions to compare the two methods (survey and site visits) to see how accurate the survey was.  While the two methods produced statistically different costs for staff and board, the total costs were not statistically different.  This suggests that the survey method can provide reasonable estimates.  Given the amount of resources and expertise needed to calculate costs using site visits, survey data may offer a helpful alternative when making decisions regarding IRB funding.

Key words/concepts: costs, IRB funding, survey, site visit, cost validation study