NORC operates its own Institutional Review Board (IRB) which follows a formal process for examining all research projects to assure human subjects protections and minimize respondent burden. In addition, NORC routinely produces materials for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review of proposed federal data collection efforts, including their review of respondent burden minimization techniques. Beyond federal requirements, NORC researchers strive to reduce respondent burden in order to maximize response and overall public benefit deriving from survey research work.
NORC’s IRB has the corporate responsibility for monitoring survey procedures to ensure the confidentiality of persons and establishments participating in a study. Before any survey may begin, the Principal Investigator or Project Director must submit a formal protocol to address human subject protections that includes all survey materials and instruments. The IRB Administrator and Chair are responsive to the need for timely reviews, and all Board members take an active role in helping guide protocols to meet the highest standards for human subject protections.
NORC’s IRB has obtained a Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) and is registered with the Federal Office for Human Research Protections. The FWA demonstrates that the NORC IRB complies with the strict U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations. NORC’s IRB requires that research protocols, both for projects in the U.S. and internationally, provide sufficient detail to ensure that (1) the selection of subjects is equitable, subjects’ privacy is protected, and data confidentiality is maintained; (2) informed consent is written in language that study participants can understand and is obtained without coercion or undue influence; and (3) appropriate safeguards protect the rights and welfare of vulnerable subjects. Reviewed materials include the informed consent statements, all contact materials, and the survey instruments. In addition, the protocol must include the curriculum used for training interviewers and other project staff on human subject protections, as well as the security plan to safeguard data security and the information technology infrastructure for collecting and transmitting data.