Economics serving society

Institutional Review Board

Context

The Paris School of Economics (PSE) has an Institutional Review Board (IRB), registered with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its purpose is to ensure ethical compliance for research involving human subjects. The IRB was designed to address the needs of researchers who carry out social experiments, principally randomized control trials and lab experiments. Any PSE researcher can apply to the IRB for review, as can research teams from the University of Paris 1, EHESS and PSL.

The IRB’s role is not to rule on the legality of an experimentation. The IRB limits itself to providing an ethical opinion on the applications for which it considers itself competent. Research teams themselves hold the responsibility of ensuring strict compliance with the law (including the Jardé Law, GDPR, CNIL, any local legislation where relevant if the study is implemented abroad, etc.), and to report to the IRB any potential risk to human subjects involved in their studies, as well as any risks that may arise from the study’s implementation.

The IRB takes no position on the relevance of individual research studies. Where ethical risks are identified, the trade-off between these risks and the benefits for the research / society must be carefully assessed and an argument presented to the IRB by the research team. This is particularly true for any case in which a waiver of informed consent is requested. It is essential that research teams are capable of identifying these risks; they must therefore be trained in the specifics of studies on human subjects. There are a number of online training courses that provide the basic knowledge needed to conduct ethical research. For example:

Research teams submitting an application to the IRB must commit to such training.

The IRB committee is appointed by the Director of PSE and is composed of three members from LEEP, three from J-PAL Europe, two members of PSE not affiliated with either lab, and two members from outside PSE. The committee elects one of its members to serve as president. The committee meets once a year to review its activities and to co-ordinate its principles.
Contact: Gaëlle Féneloux – irb psemail.eu

How the IRB works

Under the authority of the president, the secretariat passes each request for ethics clearance to one of its members for appraisal. Any member whose review of an application may pose a conflict of interest must recuse him or herself from its review.

If the examiner believes that the application does not require further investigation by the committee, then the president can issue a certificate of compliance.

If the examiner considers that there may be grounds on which to deny the application, or that further investigation is required, then the committee will meet within one month to examine the application, with a quorum of four of the ten members.

Application forms

The format of any application to the IRB depends on the nature of the experiment proposed: download the J-PAL template below for RCTs and the LEEP template for lab experiments. Applications should be submitted to irb psemail.eu. The estimated response time is 15 working days.

J-PAL Europe template

LEEP template

Nota: Those projects that deal exclusively with the collection of data in France are subject to the Data Protection Act and thus are handled by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They are not eligible for review by the IRB.

List of IRB Members

Pierre-Yves Geoffard (IRB President). Director of Research, Economics – CNRS-PSE (cv in pdf format)
Béatrice Boulu-Reshef. Professor in Economics - Orléans University (cv in pdf format)
Mikaël Cozic. Lecturer in Philosophy – Université Paris-Est (cv in pdf format)
Florent de Bodman. Founder and director – Association 1001mots (online cv)
Jean-Claude Dupont. Lecturer in Philosophy, Deputy-Director of the Hospinnomics Chair (cv in pdf format)
Marc Gurgand. Director of Research, Economics – CNRS-PSE (online cv)
Elise Huillery. Professor of Economics – Université Paris Dauphine (cv in pdf format)
Nicolas Jacquemet. Professor of Economics – Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (cv in pdf format)
Karen Macours. Director of Research, Economics – INRA-PSE (cv in pdf format)
Jean-Christophe Vergnaud. Director of Research, Economics – CNRS-Univ. Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne