Single IRB (sIRB) and external IRB are terms used to reference a legal arrangement allowing IRB regulatory review and oversight of a study by one IRB when multiple institutions have jurisdiction for the same research protocol (this is called “reliance”). Most federally funded multi-site or cooperative research requires the designation of a single IRB to serve as the reviewing IRB for all participating sites.

Visit our Reliance and Navigation page for more information about reliance agreements and the team that assists researchers with collaborative and multi-site research issues.

Reliance Request: Relying on Another IRB

Reliance refers to the use of an institutional review board (IRB) outside of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (external IRB) to conduct the regulatory review and oversight of a study. Approval to rely on an external IRB requires an administrative review by HRPP including submitting a new study request in ARROW and execution of a reliance agreement.

Requests to rely on an external IRB are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Various factors are considered in determining eligibility to rely on an external IRB such as risk level of study and whether the other institution is accredited.

Request Use of an External IRB

Use the following resources to submit a request for the use of an external IRB:

University of Wisconsin-Madison as IRB of Record (sIRB)

Complete the Single IRB Request Form to initiate a request for the UW-Madison IRB to act as sIRB.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison evaluates requests to serve as sIRB for multi-site / collaborative research on a case-by-case using Considerations Serving as sIRB (HRP-833).

Additional Resources from the Toolkit

  • Human Research Determination Worksheet (HRP-310): Assistance for determining whether an activity is human research and how it is regulated.
  • Engagement Determination Worksheet (HRP-311): Assistance for designated reviewers making engagement determinations about an institution or site’s engagement in human research.
  • Investigator Manual (HRP-103): Comprehensive guide of all policies, procedures, and resources related to the conduct of human research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Reliance Manual: Comprehensive guide about roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures related to the conduct of Human Research that is overseen by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institutional Review Board when it serves as a single Institutional Review Board (sIRB) for multi-site/collaborative studies.