Science in Focus: Robert Alan Greevy, Jr.

Behind Closed Doors, Part 3

Recognizing statistical power.

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Utilizing restricted randomization is one example of many: others include use of sample size adaptive designs, avoiding unnecessary categorization of continuous variables, and utilizing efficient analysis methods. However, the existence of room for improvement should not detract from the remarkable contribution IRBs are making toward conducting ethical human subjects research every day. Stark writes in the introduction: "There is no dispute that the current research review system is flawed. On this everyone agrees: board members, administrators, and researchers. But the fact that IRBs provoke such heated debate is all the more reason to understand how these declarative bodies came into being and actually do their work." I would add we should not lose sight of how greatly improved the current IRB system is compared to the system that preceded it. The engaging accounts in Behind Closed Doors reminded me of the good work IRBs can and do perform.

Robert Alan Greevy, Jr., is assistant professor of biostatistics at Vanderbilt University.

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