Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect"

The Hinckley Institute of Politics, University of Utah, has posted a videorecording of my lecture there last month.

"'The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect': Political Science, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Review Boards in Historical Perspective.” Keynote address, Symposium on Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy, University of Utah, March 2014.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IRB Still Isn't Peer Review

A bit off-topic here (this is a health-related study), but here's an illustration of the benefits of IRB shopping.

[Cordner, Alissa, and Phil Brown. “Moments of Uncertainty: Ethical Considerations and Emerging Contaminants.” Sociological Forum 28, no. 3 (September 2013): 469–94. doi:10.1111/socf.12034.]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

McCarthy's Mysterious Mythmaking

PRIM&R has launched "People & Perspectives (P&P)," described as a "digital story-telling library." The site features a blurb by Joan Rachlin, PRIM&R's soon-to-retire executive director, who calls it "an enduring and dynamic record of our historical antecedents, how and when we come together."

But is anyone going to vet the accuracy of stories posted on the site?

That question is raised by a 4-minute clip (taken from a much longer November 2013 interview) with Charlie McCarthy, director of the Office for Protection from Research Risks from 1978 to 1992.

I have not watched the full interview (not transcribed, and therefore a chore). But the four minutes and 12 seconds on "social-behavior research" is by itself a disturbing stew of faulty memory and misinformation.

Here are some of the key inaccuracies.

Monday, March 17, 2014

David Wright: OASH "is secretive, autocratic and unaccountable."

David Wright has resigned as director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Research Integrity. In his letter of resignation, obtained by Science Insider, Wright blames a dysfunctional Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), which also houses OHRP.

[Kaiser, Joceyln. "Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits in Frustration With Bureaucracy." Science Insider, March 12, 2014.]

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Symposium: Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy

This month the Political Science Department, University of Utah, will host a symposium entitled, "Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy." Sponsored by the Betty Glad Memorial Fund, the symposium will take place March 20 [8:45 am - 5:30 pm] and March 21 [9:00 am - 3:30 pm].

The description follows:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Belfast Project: No lawyers, few historians (and no IRB)

Discussions of the ill-fated Belfast Project at Boston College often frame the issue as what can happen to an oral history project in the absence of IRB oversight. But a recent account of the project in the Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as subsequent discussion, suggests that the real problem was a lack of involvement by lawyers and historians.

[McMurtrie, Beth. “Secrets From Belfast.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 26, 2014.]

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Willingham Denies Misleading UNC IRB

Mary Willingham, accused by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of diverging from the protocol she showed her IRB, states that the IRB always knew her plans.

[Wilson, Robin. “Chapel Hill Researcher’s Findings on Athletes’ Literacy Bring a Backlash.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 24, 2014.]

Quebec Court Shields Confidential Interview from Police

A Quebec court has quashed a search warrant for an interview given in confidence by accused killer Luka Magnotta to University of Ottawa researchers. The court agrees with the professors that "the public interest in protecting researcher-participant confidentiality in general, and in the specific circumstances of this case, clearly outweighs what minimal contribution, if any, the release of the seized items will make to the prosecution of the accused in the criminal proceeding." (2)

[Parent c. R., 2014 QCCS 132. h/t Will C. van den Hoonaard]

Friday, January 24, 2014

Should IRBs Monitor Research Safety?

Susanne Bahn, Michelle Greenwood, and Harry Van Buren argue that "universities have a legal (and an ethical) duty of care for the safety of their employees and it is therefore reasonable to expect that all risks are identified, disclosed and adequately controlled" and that "highly risky research requires additional safeguards for the protection of the research subjects and researchers alike."

Their article offers scant details on what such safeguards might look like.

[Bahn, Susanne, Michelle Greenwood, and Harry J. Van Buren. “The Nexus of Employee Safety, Professional Integrity and Ethics: Applying Stakeholder Theory to University Researchers.” Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations 9 (2013): 13–29. DOI: 10.1108/S1529-2096(2013)0000009007]

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

UNC Accuses Critics of Unauthorized Research

As I noted briefly before, the UNC-Chapel Hill has accused Mary Willingham of violating human subjects rules in her study of the scholastic abilities of student athletes. Willingham has yet to offer a detailed account of her side of the story, and the university's account remains vague as well.