The major role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) entails monitoring the analysis of information concerning human subjects in order to safeguard privacy and observe the rights and privileges of the participants in a particular study. The evolution in the roles of IRBs has created local, central commercial and IRBs. Central and local IRBs are equivalent in their role in the protection of human subjects.
Both IRBs seeks to minimize the level of exposure of the subjects to risks by adopting measures that ensure participants only encounter risks whose level of impact is acceptable in consideration to the anticipated benefits (Moon & Khin-Maung-Gyi, 2009). Another similarity in the role of the two IRBs is the adherence to equitable selection of subjects in a study. This entails the consideration of the consent by subjects to participate in a study after having accessed all the information necessary in making an appropriate decision (Madzarevic, 2010). The need to protect the privacy of the subjects in a study and ensure that any collected data remains confidential is a key concern within both local and central IRBs. Various safeguards focus on eliminating the vulnerability of research subjects to forces such as coercion. Local and central IRBs monitor researches at intervals that minimize the impacts of various risks to subjects.
Despite various similarities, there are several differences between the roles of local and central IRBs in the protection of human subjects. Local IRBs work within a narrow scope that introduces possibilities of bias within a research. On the other hand, central IRBs support multicenter trials and incorporate large samples of subjects in a research (Olsen, 2011). Thus, their role in the promotion of fairness and justice in a research process is more intense compared to local IRBs. Central IRBs have a greater access to resources, which is a crucial factor concerning the minimization of the exposure of participants in a study to various risks (Yaffe & Aranda 2010). The availability of staff and expertise within central IRBs facilitates appropriate monitoring and evaluation of a study. In addition, it enables the creation of a framework, which promotes equitable selection of subjects and observance of their rights. This is not the case for local IRBs whose function as elements of academic institutions hampers their level of access to crucial resources and thus face challenges in protecting human subjects.