"Protecting" or "Policing": Academic Researchers' View of IRBs in an Arab Context

J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics. 2014 Dec;9(5):25-35. doi: 10.1177/1556264614553170. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


A recent surge of research universities and human subjects research funding in the Arab world raises concerns about applied research ethics and oversight. In-depth interviews conducted with 52 researchers in Lebanon and Qatar about their research conduct and the problems they face while conducting it indicate that although researchers admit to the added value of institutional review board (IRB) functions, the researchers have several complaints, such as rigid and contextually insensitive requirements, delays, and inadequate resources at IRBs, and a lack of outreach and effective communication with researchers. The study discusses these challenges pointing to the need for socioculturally adaptive regulations and forms and strengthening outreach and communication between IRBs and their users to improve ethical practices. Implications for future research are also presented.

Keywords: Arab world; IRB; challenges; humans subjects research; qualitative methods; research ethics; researchers’ experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabs
  • Attitude*
  • Behavioral Sciences / ethics
  • Biomedical Research / ethics
  • Ethics Committees, Research*
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Human Experimentation / ethics
  • Humans
  • Lebanon
  • Qatar
  • Research Personnel / ethics*
  • Research*
  • Universities