The research ethics review process (RECs/IRBs)
There is a wide range of ways of performing the research ethics appraisal process. Some are highly formalised, some are available via online decision trees, some entail checklists of a more advisory/aide memoire nature and even those checklists vary in their detail and depth. The range of ways of conducting research ethics review reflects the variations in the agencies using such a process and the governance arrangements that they have to apply. Some review processes need research proposals to be formally ‘approved’ before being permitted to proceed, others require an ‘opinion’ from the ethics review process and the decision to proceed will depend on the governance process in the funding, commission or managing research agency. Such divisions are sometimes found in the difference between Research Ethics Boards (REBs), Research Ethics Committees (RECs) or Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). A sample of these different procedures are presented here.