Q: When listing the IRB approval number in a paper for joint research involving many facilities, which facility number should be listed?

Detailed Question -

The corresponding author is the principal investigator in the protocol, and the corresponding author prepared the protocol and got the initial approval for IRB. The first author and co-authors got approval at each facility based on this.

1 Answer to this question

Thank you for your question!

An institutional review board (IRB) serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human participants or animal subjects involved in the research in question. It bears the authority to approve or disapprove the study protocol or recommend changes before approval. When it comes to publishing, all reputed and peer reviewed journals follow the principles of transparency and ethical conduct. Documentation of having obtained IRB approval is vital for these journals to ensure necessary steps are taken in protecting research subjects and maintaining public trust in the process of medical research.

That becomes our responsibility as well to confirm that our research meets the highest possible ethical standards. In this effort, public transparency and documentation are crucial.

There is no doubt that you would be required to supplement IRB approval certificates from all facilities where the study was conducted; however, disclosing this in manuscript—will depend on your targeted journal guidelines. Some journals may request a standard statement disclosing that the study received the IRB approval and appropriate guidelines were followed. While others would mandate IRB details (Board name and approval number) in the Methods section. So, if your target journal requires this information, do mention the IRB details of all facilities. Authors can be more specific about which part of study was approved by mentioning respective ethics board.

Hope to have answered your query. All the best for your submission!