IPA’s RRC was formed to provide an opportunity for academic feedback and to ensure the quality and feasibility (given the context) of project proposals written by potential IPA researchers. RRC members are comprised of senior IPA and J-PAL staff, senior PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, and assistant professors. If the proposal relates to research in a country where IPA has an office, the relevant country director may also review the proposal.

  • The RRC reviews all projects for which IPA will likely receive funding, unless a project is deemed exempt
  • Exemptions/waivers are made for projects if:
    • at least one PI has a peer-reviewed published paper on a randomized controlled trial and three complete projects through IPA and/or J-PAL
    • one of its PIs is a J-PAL affiliate
  • Once a researcher has successfully undergone the RRC process three times, she/he will not need to go through the RRC process again
  • Only a member of the RRC or IPA’s RRC Coordinator can decide that a project is exempt

Proposals will ideally be reviewed well in advance of submission deadlines, such as deadlines for grants and IRB applications. If committee review is only possible shortly (1-2 weeks) before a proposal deadline, a preliminary review may allow for applications without full RRC approval. This preliminary review does not replace the full research review process and it is understood that the RRC will have to approve the project (and may require changes to the proposal) before IPA agrees to partner on the project.

Relationship to External Applications
Without RRC preliminary approval, full approval, or exemption, a project may submit Letters of Interest to potential donors and it may apply to external IRBs, as long as it is made clear that IPA is only considered a potential partner. Without RRC preliminary approval, full approval, or exemption a project must not portray itself as a project that will be implemented in collaboration with IPA, and must not apply to external funding as such a project.

RRC Process

Step 1:
Following discussions between the researcher and a country office, IPA’s country office staff triggers the RRC’s proposal review.

Step 2:
The RRC coordinator approaches a project’s PI and requests the submission of a proposal. At this stage, the project’s PI may ask for the additional, preliminary review if needed.

Step 3:
The PI submits the proposal in the RRC template OR in another format ensuring that key information about the research design, data collection, power calculations and budget is provided. It is strongly recommended to use the RRC template document.

Step 4:
The RRC coordinator prepares the proposal for review by stripping any identifying information from the proposal materials; the proposal is then sent to the selected reviewers and their feedback is requested within 2 weeks.

Step 5:
The RRC coordinator reviews all feedback after it is received and communicates the decision to the researcher.

  • If all reviewers indicate that they accept the project without reservation, the researcher is notified that IPA may partner with them on the project. Any suggestions to consider are shared with the researcher.
  • If any reviewer indicates that they require additional information and/or changes, the concerns are shared with the researcher, and a response is requested within 1-2 weeks. The revised proposal is then sent to a 2nd tier reviewer to determine if the response has sufficiently addressed the reviewers’ concerns.
  • If any reviewer indicates that they reject the proposal, the proposal is shared with the RRC Chair who reviews both the proposal and the reviewer’s comments and makes a final determination.
  • If the Chair requires additional input, she may contact a member of the RRC advisory group, comprised of researchers closely affiliated with IPA who are experts in the field of development and in the application of randomized experiments.

The following provides a flow chart on how the RRC’s review fits into the overall project lifecycle:

RRC Review Flow Chart


For more information, please contact IPA’s research review coordinator (researchreview@poverty-action.org).