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Abstract

Libraries and librarians have a variety of relationships with Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). These relationships differ by the institution type, engagement level with the IRB, and the type of library within which a librarian works. What roles, then, might a librarian fill with regard to an institution’s IRB? This article provides a short history and an overview of the purpose of the IRB, and proposes three possible roles for librarians: that of the lead investigator in their own research, that of a reviewer for the IRB, and that of an ex-officio member or research liaison serving as an information consultant to the IRB. The role of lead investigator is the most common role for librarians on the IRB, while ex-officio and/or librarian consultant memberships on IRBs are less frequently found relationships. However, seeking a closer relationship with the IRB is logical and would be suitable for librarians in and beyond academic librarianship. Librarians with full IRB appointments seem to be the least common role and may require closer ties with the research operations of an institution and higher qualifications than an ex-officio or consultant position. Each possible relationship comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. These are explored in this article.

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