Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version

Spring 6-1-2015

Document Type



The Institutional Review Board (IRB), also known as an Independent Ethics Committee (IEC), is the most widely adopted process to insure human participant protection. The IRB system is overburdened as human research studies and human participation has dramatically increased without a corresponding increase in reviewing clinicians or ethics staff. Librarian involvement in the IRB process is evident but uneven and unstudied on an international scale. A literature review and international survey attempted to provide professional practice context and librarian reflection on the extent of their involvement, roles, and responsibilities in the IRB or IEC institutional process. Survey results reveal that some librarians in countries with mature health systems are proactive and involved in the IRB process, and their information skills have been useful to their institutions. Some librarians collaborate effectively at their institutional level, and they perceive their efforts to insure human protections are valued. More effort is needed to project librarian research skills to health professionals submitting studies through an IRB or IEC in less mature health care systems. The universal need for ethical human research subject protection could form the foundation for new paradigms of local, regional, national and international cooperation, both within the library community and with health profession groups and regulatory agencies.