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University of Wisconsin–Madison

ARROW Updates

Results compiled from the 2016 IRB Survey conducted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) indicated that campus researchers urged the need for changes to the online application for research oversight (ARROW).  Over the past year, working along with the IRBs to incorporate their suggestions for improving the ARROW experience for the UW–Research community, the Information Technology division of OVCRGE has implemented nearly four hundred major and minor modifications to ARROW focused on enhancing the user-interface, expanding administrative efficiencies, and remaining in compliance with all regulatory requirements.  Some highlights of the work accomplished toward these efforts include:

User-Interface Enhancements

In December 2017, OVCRGE launched a complete overhaul of ARROW with a fresh, modern look and new user-focused features:

  • Simplified “My Inbox” clearly indicates the status of an application and any actions required to progress the submission.
  • Reorganized study workspace that emphasizes important activities and information.
  • Workflow diagram that charts the progress of an application from submission through approval.

This redesign marked the first major interface change to ARROW since it was released in 2010.

In March of 2018, additional changes were made to facilitate investigator’s ability to track and monitor their ARROW protocols. The inbox is no longer limited to 5 protocols and can be increased, eliminating the need to scroll to see all the user’s protocols. Expiration dates as well as alerts for protocols expiring within 30 days also became visible on the study team workspace in My Research.

Administrative Efficiencies

Finding ways to streamline the ARROW application process remains a priority for OVCRGE.

  • The IRB application was revised to reduce some redundant and unnecessary questions.
  • PIs can now copy information from a previous application into a new form.
  • Studies involving Non-Exempt Medical Records (NEMR) now auto-fill some answers with templated language and provide researchers with targeted guidance as they move through each step.
  • PIs are now able to remove personnel from an application without submitting a change request to the IRB.

Regulatory Compliance

Throughout 2017/2018 changes in the regulatory landscape have required modifications to ARROW.

Major updates to ARROW are released every two months as part of OVCRGE’s continuous effort to alleviate administrative burden on the UW research community.  To help in this effort, we’ve implemented two new mechanisms for direct feedback:

  • The “Provide Feedback” button in ARROW allows researchers to make suggestions for improving the system or to report problems experienced which can be addressed by IT in future releases.
  • The “IRB Approval Feedback” survey is sent to PIs and POCs after a study is approved by the IRB to gather feedback about the experience.

To receive future notifications about changes in the ARROW system and other changes motivated by the IRB survey, please send an email message to