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How can I trust a research study opportunity?

Let’s take an example - You’re at your local coffee shop looking at a bulletin board, and you see a flyer advertising a research study. How can you tell a study is a legitimate opportunity?

Here are a few features to look for: 

  1. Look for information about an Institutional Review Board (IRB). 
    • Advertisements for research studies that are reviewed by ethics boards, called IRBs, will often have contact information, expiration dates, and approval dates on them. An IRB reviews all studies looking for participants to make sure they are taking the right steps to protect participants people who are part of the study. Study information usually includes a way to contact the IRB if you have questions. If you are wondering if a study is legitimate, look for the study’s IRB information.

  2. Search for the study title, researcher name, or the IRB number on a search engine, like Google.
    • Legitimate study opportunities will most likely list all this information on the flyer. If you find more information about the study online, especially coming from a trusted source (generally, websites ending in .edu or .gov are trustworthy), the study is likely legitimate.

  3. Check ClinicalTrials.gov
    • Many clinical trials are required to list information about the study on ClinicalTrials.gov. This includes what the study is about, what disease or topic it might study, who they are looking for, and where the study is happening. Not all research studies are required to list on ClinicalTrials.gov, so you may have to use another method to find out more.

  4. For studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, Check Research for Me!
    • On Research for Me, you can search keywords about a study, you’re interested in. The information you see on the flyer should be very similar to the information on the Research for Me page.

  5. Search for the listed contact information online to see if you can find more information elsewhere.
    •  Many studies here at UNC have the name of someone on the study team listed on their flyer.

  6. Ask your doctor
    • If you’re not sure about a study or want to learn if a particular study may be right for you, check with your doctor!

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