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7 Reasons to Get IRB Approval and How it Can Make You Money 
by Holly Rustick

As a grant writer, are you required to get Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to conducting your assessment?

Well, here is the thing. You are a consultant and not a research academic, however if your Needs & Strengths Assessment deals with people and if you want your research to have credibility, be published, gain notoriety in the press, and help you earn more money as a grant writer, then probably yes.

You will also be able to charge your clients more if you go forward on IRB approval because of the extra steps and the products (published research) that you will be able to deliver. Let’s face it folks, an IRB-approved and published Needs & Strengths Assessment can be a separate product (other than grant writing) that you can put as a product to be sold as a grant writer. This aligns very well with your grant writing as you can utilize information from the Needs & Strengths Assessment to include in your grants for that particular client.

Here are 7 reasons to get IRB approval... and how it can make you money

 
  1. IRB approval may be required (if you are dealing with human subjects; i.e. people)

  2. IRB approval creates more validity and credibility for your research as you will have support for your research from an external source
  3. IRB approval will give you some structure for setting up your Needs & Strengths Assessment
  4. You can submit for publication of your IRB-approved research in a peer-reviewed journal
  5. Publishing your IRB approved research on your nonprofit’s (or your client’s) website will have more weight because it is IRB-approved
  6. As a grant writer an IRB approved Needs & Strengths Assessment can be another product you create for your clients
  7. You can utilize research from your IRB approved Needs & Strengths Assessment for your grants

 

1. IRB approval may be required (if you are dealing with human subjects; i.e. people)

So, just what is IRB approval? You may or may not have heard of it.

Oregon State University states that,

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the institution with which it is affiliated.”

What this basically means is that an IRB committee is set up to make sure research that involved human beings is ethical; i.e. no physical or psychological harm is done to human beings. This protection is gained through the IRB reviewing research protocols and related materials. For IRB approval you normally submit an application, an abstract, survey instruments, informed consent form, methods and outline, and a cover letter. This is important to show why your research is important, how you will roll it out, and what the human subjects will be doing.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Health and Human Services oversee IRB committees.

According to the FDA,

Under FDA regulations, an IRB is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, an IRB has the authority to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or disapprove research. This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.”

What is the purpose of the IRB?

FDA goes on to say that,

“The purpose of IRB review is to assure, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research. To accomplish this purpose, IRBs use a group process to review research protocols and related materials (e.g., informed consent documents and investigator brochures) to ensure protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects of research.”

Boston University states that, IRB approval is required before you start your research.

“Federal regulations require that research projects involving human subjects be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB must approve or determine the project to be exempt prior to the start of any research activities. The IRB cannot provide approval or determinations for research that has already been concluded.”

If you are looking at doing a Needs & Strengths Assessment, it is important to secure IRB approval.

Where can you get IRB Approval?

Most IRB committees are set up under Research Universities and independent consultants are able to apply for IRB approval. You would have to contact a research university in your area to find out about their specific IRB process. Usually the committee only meets at certain times during the year, but more recently has been able to review applications via email throughout the year. In any case, you will want to find out at your earliest convenience.

First, make sure your project requires IRB approval: https://www.bellevuecollege.edu/irb/need/
 

2. It creates more validity and credibility for your research 

Credibility in research is super important for you as a grant writer and for the nonprofit you serve. Getting IRB approved is a great ‘stamp’ to put on your research. This is an endorsement from a research university that will elevate your research while doing your research and post-research. For example, people in your focus groups may take some comfort if you say that you have IRB approval from a well-known university in your area versus your company which they may not know.

 

3. It will give you some structure for setting up your Assessment 

As pointed out above, most typically requested in the IRB application process is the following: Submit an:

  • application
  • an abstract
  • survey instruments
  • informed consent form
  • methods and outline
  • and a cover letter

This will force you to actually develop these items and to do it well.

For example, if you have no one reviewing how you are setting up your survey you may not be as thorough. That is basic human nature. But if you know you have a committee reviewing your work (and they only meet once a quarter so if you get it denied you have to wait an entire quarter to re-submit) then that is going to cause you to give a lot more consideration in the development of your documents you submit!

This process will also help you really refine what type of information you are trying to accumulate and what is really important.
 

4. You can submit for publication of your research in a peer-reviewed journal

Once you have the endorsement of being IRB-approved, you can then submit a report on your Needs & Strengths Assessment for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Even the Huffington Post or other media outlets will pay way more attention to your finished research when it has IRB approval.

In this way you can also submit a press release to local (or national) outlets about your finished report. This is great for spreading awareness about the projects that nonprofits are doing and may attract funding from other sources that read about the research!
 

5. Publishing your research on your (or your clients) website will have more weight with IRB approval

Publishing Needs & Strengths Assessment reports on your client’s (nonprofit’s) website provides another level of credibility. Having this be IRB-approved adds an even deeper dimension of transparency and accountability.

6. As a grant writer this can be another product you create for your clients

As you can see by the previous five points, an IRB approved Needs & Strengths Assessment can be an entire service (the assessment itself) and product (the report) that you develop for a nonprofit. Depending on the number of surveys you conduct and the depth of focus groups that you have, can depend on the amount that you charge. But when you add in the IRB application process, providing a final report for publication on the nonprofit’s website, sending out a press release of the final results, and also submitting for publication in peer-reviewed journals, you can see repurposing the material you already will have can add a lot more bang for your buck. This is a great product that you can create to offer diversity to your grant writing packages and that will also enhance your grant research.

 

7. You can utilize this research for your grants

By conducting a Needs & Strengths Assessment, and by analyzing the result in a final report, will give you amazing research for your grants. If you do this for one nonprofit, chances are you will be able to keep them as a client to do grant writing services for, as you will be very well-versed in the results of the study. You will understand their beneficiaries needs and the strengths in the community and be able to write a compelling project narrative by utilizing data from the study.

 

So to sum up, the 7 reasons to get IRB approval... and how it can make you money

  1. IRB approval may be required (if you are dealing with human subjects; i.e. people)
  2. IRB approval creates more validity and credibility for your research as you will have support for your research from an external source
  3. IRB approval will give you some structure for setting up your Needs & Strengths Assessment
  4. You can submit for publication of your IRB-approved research in a peer-reviewed journal
  5. Publishing your IRB approved research on your nonprofit’s (or your client’s) website will have more weight because it is IRB-approved
  6. As a grant writer an IRB approved Needs & Strengths Assessment can be another product you create for your clients
  7. You can utilize research from your IRB approved Needs & Strengths Assessment for your grants

Let me know if you have any questions! Next week is our last week in July and will be our final round-up on the Needs & Strengths Assessment!
 


 

 
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