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Single IRB (SIRB):  one IRB designated to provide IRB review and approval of a study for multiple institutions. Also known as the reviewing IRB or IRB of record.

External IRB: the SIRB / Reviewing IRB that is outside OUHSC. Also known as the non-OU IRB or outside IRB. 

Reviewing IRB: the IRB designated to conduct the official review in an SIRB setting. Also known as the SIRB or IRB of record.

Relying Site: the site(s) participating in research that cede IRB oversight to the Reviewing IRB. Also known at the participating site.  

Reliance Agreement: an agreement between the institutions that defines the roles and responsibilities between the SIRB and the relying site. Also known as an IRB Authorization Agreement (IAA). 

Working with Non-OU Collaborators

When a non-OU collaborator from an institution that does not have a federalwide assurance (FWA) will be engaged in human research reviewed by an OUHSC IRB, an agreement between the non-OU collaborator and the University is required. This agreement is called an Individual Investigator Agreement (IIA) and it extends our FWA to cover the non-OU collaborator. 

Refer to HRPP SOP 602J to learn more about what steps and information are required under When OU Extends its FWA to Collaborating, Non-OU Investigators. 

Single IRB Review

What is Single IRB?

Single IRB (SIRB) is a review model to allow multiple institutions that are conducting the same protocol to use a single IRB for review, instead of using multiple IRBs to review the research for each individual site. 

In order for the SIRB model to be utilized, the institution who will serve as the single, reviewing IRB and the institution who will rely on the single IRB for review and oversight must enter into a formal arrangement called a reliance agreement. 

The process to request a reliance agreement for single IRB review is detailed below. 

OUHSC as the Single IRB of Record

Click to learn more about the process for when OUHSC serves as the SIRB for multi-site research studies.

Request a Consultation

Consultations are available upon request to discuss your proposed research and review the SIRB process for requesting and executing reliance agreements.

Relying on an External IRB

Click to learn more about how to request OUHSC rely on an external or outside IRB.


OUHSC IRB may serve as the single, reviewing IRB for multi-site research.

Investigators must submit a request to the HRPP Office for OUHSC to serve as the SIRB for outside sites. This request is submitted in REDCap and processed by the SIRB Administrator to obtain concurrence from University officials, HRPP Director, and IRB Chair.  

For IRB submissions, investigators should add non-OU sites to the IRB application and select that the non-OU site is requesting OUHSC to serve as the IRB of record.

  • Initial IRB approval of the study will only be applied to the OUHSC site.
  • IRB approval for each non-OU site will issued after reliance agreements with each institution has been finalized and executed.
  • The SIRB Administrator and the HRPP Office will help facilitate the process for obtaining this reliance agreement. 

Activation and approval of non-OU sites relying on OUHSC IRB is achieved by the OUHSC investigator and study team, who is responsible for submitting the Relying Site form in iRIS after the reliance agreement has been executed. Only one site may be submitted per form. Your IRB Administrator and SIRB Administrator will walk you step-by-step through this process. 

Consultations are available to discuss the process and requirements in detail. Request a Consultation  to submit a consultation/meeting request. 

Relying on an External IRB

Relying on an external IRB to conduct IRB review and provide oversight of a study must be approved by University officials. Investigators who are approached by an outside investigator, sponsor, or central IRB to participate in a multi-site research study, and use their designated IRB for review, must submit a request to the HRPP Office.  

Various factors are considered when reviewing requests to rely on an external IRB such as: the risk level of a study, exempt/non-exempt status, the funding/sponsoring entity, and whether the outside institution is accredited. 

After a reliance agreement is finalized and executed, investigators must create a research file in iRIS by submitting a Relying on an External IRB application. 


  1. When relying on an external IRB, it is the local (OU) Principal Investigator's responsibility to learn and comply with the policies and procedures of the external, reviewing IRB. In cases where research is reviewing by an external IRB, their policies will prevail. For example, it is imperative that PI's are aware of the external IRB's reporting requirements and timelines for protocol deviations and unanticipated problems because the process and timeline may differ from OUHSC's IRB reporting requirements. 
  2. Studies covered by a master agreement are excluded from submitting REDCap requests to rely on the external IRB so long as the research falls within the defined scope of the master agreement. Studies that fall outside the scope of a master agreement must submit a request in REDCap to the HRPP Office.
  3. ALL studies using an outside IRB covered by a master agreement or individual reliance agreement must submit the Relying on an External IRB application in iRIS.
Unsure which requirements or procedures apply? Have other questions about the SIRB process? Submit a Consultation Request to request/schedule a meeting with IRB staff. 

Templates and Resources


OUHSC Local Context Information (for OUHSC investigators to use when relying on an external IRB)

Local Context Worksheet for Relying Sites (for external, non-OU sites relying on OUHSC IRB)

Designation of Responsibilities (complete when OUHSC is the SIRB)


OU HRPP Policy - SOP 602J: Use of a Single IRB (sIRB) in Multicenter Research

SMART IRB Website - visit the Learning Center and Resources

OUHSC Federalwide Assurance (FWA) Information

OHRP Database - to search for FWAs on other institutions

HHS Regulations, 45 CFR 46.114 - Cooperative Research

NIH Policy for sIRB Review for Multi-Site Research