IRB Review of the Use of Social Media in Research.

Posted: Feb 13, 2013
Monitor. 26. 5. 39-42.
KEYWORDS: Institutional Issues, Regulatory Issues, Web, Social Media


Researchers can utilize social media tools by working with their institutional review board (IRB) to create a cascading communication plan that outlines possible messages to tweet, blog, text or post.

Why this item may be useful

Although websites use a different medium than traditional print or broadcast advertisements, the IRB review requirements are the same.  The IRB must review the content of study-specific communications, but does not need to review educational or general informational materials that are not study-specific


The IRB must review:

  • all direct advertising for research subjects including display or banner ads on a web page.
  • paid search advertisements, in-text advertisements and those appearing on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn
  • social network pages established to promote a study
  • any blog, blog post, tweet or text that contains study-study-specific information

The IRB does not need to review:

  • study-specific information posted on a website as long as it is limited to the title of the study, its purpose and study locations.
  • testimonials, videos, links or other information communicated by a third party such as a research participant.