Bring ethical research into action with VIRB.

Your access to ethical, community-driven practices.

If your project requires approval from an Institutional Review Board, you’ve come to the right place. We created VIRB to give our clients access to all the benefits of an IRB at a more accessible price point than many of the existing options available.

Thanks to VIRB, you can ensure that your research procedures prioritize the well-being of individuals that participate — regardless of available funding and timeline.

What is an Institutional Review Board?

Scientific exploration during the 20th century was marked by controversies, scandals, and outright criminal activity and malpractice. As a result, the rights of human subjects in research came sharply into focus. In 1974 the U.S. passed the National Research Act, which established the principle structure for research review across the nation: Institutional Review Boards.

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a research oversight body that prioritizes the protection of research subjects. By reviewing human-subject research proposals and protocols, IRBs prevent malpractice and ensure that research is done to the highest ethical standards.

IRBs in the United States are regulated and given authority by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office for Human Research Protection. IRB oversight is often required to get federal research grants.
Review Proposals and Protocols
Promote Research Subject Safety
Ethical Guidance and Oversight
Prevent Research Malpractice

Interested in an IRB consultation?

We’d love to learn more about your project.

Frequent Questions About IRB.

Who can benefit from VIRB? +

While anyone engaging in community-driven or people-centered research can benefit from VIRB, we’re especially focused on serving groups who might not have access to other IRBs due to cost or other administrative barriers.

Unlike those who work in a university setting, the data scientists and community researchers that work with nonprofits or independent research or evaluation firms aren’t likely to have access to IRB partners. VIRB increases awareness and access to resources so those researchers can apply best practices and research participant rights are protected.

If I want to engage in an applied research or evaluation project with Viable Insights, can VIRB still be the acting IRB? +

Conflicts of interest are a common concern when discussing IRBs that are both in traditional university-type institutions and for-profit organizations, like VIRB. IRBs associated with a university may be motivated to approve research applications, while privately held IRBs might feel pressure because there’s an exchange of money.

The Federal Government has created safeguards to mitigate undue influence in these processes — the biggest of those being the use of diverse review board rosters. IRBs are typically made up of people from vastly different backgrounds: some associated with the institution housing the board and others external to the institution.

VIRB is no exception. Our board is made up of people that are both internal and external to Viable Insights. Any time an application is submitted to VIRB, the board administrator ensures that it’s assigned to a reviewer that doesn’t have conflicts of interest.

Long story short, VIRB is separated enough from our other services where our diverse team can serve both needs

Are there any fees associated with VIRB? +

As much as we’d love to offer VIRB for free, our focus is to provide an equity-focused exchange of services. We’re committed to providing value to practitioners and their community partners while compensating board members for their time and expertise. Depending on the complexity of your application, the fees can range from $1000-1500.

Some of our IRB counterparts charge $500 just to tell you whether or not you are proposing human-subjects research — to say nothing of the additional charges for the actual review. When you work with VIRB, that first hurdle of research vs. non-research is free of charge.

We want VIRB to be as accessible as possible. If our fees are a barrier to your completion of an IRB, please let us know. We’ll do everything in our power to meet you where you and your research organization are.

What qualifications does your team have to run an IRB? Who will review my proposal? +

Our board is made up of individuals with diverse academic and experiential backgrounds, both scientific and nonscientific. Several members of VIRB are directly from the Viable Insights roster, and several others belong to other research firms and academic institutions.

Like many other IRBs, we don’t disclose reviewer identities directly. This maintains anonymity that allows our board members to discharge their reviews honestly.

Our VIRB Administrator, Phil Stoelken, is a Partner at Viable Insights. As the administrator, his primary duty is to act as an intermediary between the researcher(s) and reviewers.

How long will it take VIRB to make a determination regarding my proposal status? +

Review times vary depending on whether the independent reviewer is able to expedite the application approval, or if the application requires a full-board review.

The complexity or sensitivity of the application or proposed research is the biggest factor in this process. As a general rule, expedited applications will be reviewed in 7-10 days, while full board reviews may take up to 21 days.

If your project is in a time crunch, please make that clear in the initial consultation phase. The board will make every effort to accommodate your timeline needs.

I need more than just a determination of my proposal. Can you offer suggestions to strengthen things like research design? +

Absolutely. From our point of view, this is the benefit to adding another perspective to the review of your research. If you’re interested in receiving recommendations on your methodology or tools, we’re happy to provide add-on services for a nominal fee.

How long does a VIRB approval last? +

Most research projects are short-term engagements that last less than a year. When you fill out your VIRB application, you’ll be asked to indicate your project timeline. VIRB approvals typically last for one calendar year.

If your project is a multi-year engagement, our team will check in at the end of every project year to ensure continued fidelity to the approved-upon research practices. In the event that research practices need to be adjusted, the researcher is required to submit addendums to VIRB for approval. The addendum process will typically be reviewed and approved in 1-2 days.

“Viable Insights possesses impeccable project management skills, communicating with appropriate team members at every stage of contracted projects. They are professional and patient in meetings, listening to all stakeholder needs and providing clear explanations if there is confusion. They are also extremely dedicated to the individuals they are working with, often providing insights to adjacent projects that are related to the work they are doing. It has been a welcomed relief to work with a consulting group so stress-free.”
Alysha Ramirez-Hall, PhD, Data Scientist
End of Life Care Partnership, United way of Tucson & Southern Arizona

The first step is a conversation.

We would love to set up a time to grab coffee and talk through any questions, concerns, or research goals you have.