Social & Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board

A sensor cap from a Child Development lab in Psychology

The Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board (SBS IRB) is an ethics committee composed of scientists and non-scientists (both affiliated and unaffiliated with the university) charged with protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects in research. The SBS IRB serves the Social Sciences Division as well as all University of Chicago schools, divisions, and departments that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Biological Sciences Division (BSD) IRB or Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice IRB. The University of Chicago requires IRB review or a formal exemption determination for any activities that constitute research with human subjects according university policy and applicable regulations. The SBS IRB reviews a variety of research ranging from randomized, controlled trials to surveys, interviews and secondary data analysis studies.

In addition to reviewing and approving research protocols for social scientists at the University of Chicago, the SBS IRB also helps scholars when they engage in collaborative research and data sharing across institutions. As frequent communication between universities and research institutions across the country, and even the world, becomes more common, research projects have grown correspondingly complex. The SBS IRB helps researchers navigate these types of protocols through systematic review of federal regulations and through tailoring protocols to make it easier to share data and determine research engagement. The SBS IRB also reviews protocols for researchers engaged in data collection abroad, where a number of considerations from local law to cultural practices may lead to further ethical and data safety considerations.

The SBS IRB staff maintain an active presence in the social sciences research community by visiting classrooms to explain the human subjects research review process and by providing training to researchers at various levels of experience. They are committed to the training of students in the division and provide resources ranging from written guides to in-person training to help students navigate what is often their first review process.