Monday, May 23, 2016

CITI Program is not unique in its mortifying stupidity

Writing in Slate, L. V. Anderson condemns simplistic, online training programs that are supposed to encourage regulatory compliance, but really just suck up time and money without improving behavior.


[L. V. Anderson, “Ethics Trainings Are Even Dumber Than You Think,” Slate, May 19, 2016.]


Anderson writes,


Regulators, managers, and employees are caught in a vicious cycle. Regulators pressure companies to implement training programs in hopes of reducing corporate crime and malfeasance. Executives implement training programs in hopes of protecting themselves against lawsuits and prosecution. Employees see through executives’ motivations and ignore, or even rebel against, the lessons of the trainings.

Although there’s not much research one way or the other, the online nature of compliance courses probably exacerbates this vicious cycle.


Anderson does not specifically mention the mortifyingly stupid CITI Program and its cousins in the IRB world, but everything she says applies to them.

Ethics of big data research are unsettled, and so are mechanisms

Sarah Zhang of WIRED uses the OKCupid data dump to explore the unsettled state of big data research ethics and mechanisms to promote them.


[Sarah Zhang, “Scientists Are Just as Confused About the Ethics of Big-Data Research as You,” WIRED, May 20, 2016.]

Friday, May 13, 2016

Medical researchers call for IRB clarity

Two medical researchers and a bioethicist, all affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, call for IRBs to “reduce researchers’ frustrations and foster greater trust” by offering “transparency and accountability around IRB decisions.”


[Stephen G. Henry, Patrick S. Romano, and Mark Yarborough, “Building Trust Between Institutional Review Boards and Researchers,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, May 2, 2016, 1–3, doi:10.1007/s11606–016–3721–3.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

NPRM Comments Focus on Biospecimens

The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), with support from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), has reviewed and analyzed (they don’t say “read”) all 2,186 public comments submitted in response to the 2015 NPRM. The analysis suggests that the debate over biospecimens is crowding out discussion of other proposed reforms.


[Council on Governmental Relations, “Analysis of Public Comments on the Common Rule NPRM,” May 2016. h/t Michelle Meyer.]

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

NSF Officer Misstates Belmont and Common Rule Standards

In the final contribution to the PS symposium, Lee Demetrius Walker, currently serving as program officer for the Political Science Program at the National Science Foundation, acknowledges the problems of applying a biomedical review system to social science. But he misstates the Belmont and Common Rule standards for assessing research.


[Lee Demetrius Walker, “National Science Foundation, Institutional Review Boards, and Political and Social Science,” PS: Political Science & Politics 49, no. 02 (April 2016): 309–12, doi:10.1017/S1049096516000263.]

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Concern that IRBs will hinder field experiments

In his PS contribution, Brian Calfano worries that the Montana postcard fiasco will lead IRBs to impede political science field experiments, especially at teaching institutions.


[Brian R. Calfano, “‘I’ Does Not Mean Infallible: Pushing Back against Institutional Review Board Overreach,” PS: Political Science & Politics 49, no. 02 (April 2016): 304–8, doi:10.1017/S1049096516000251.]

Monday, May 9, 2016

Can community partners replace IRBs for field experiments?

In her contribution to the PS symposium, Melissa Michelson argues that “real-world practitioners” will often know more about relevant ethics and law than will the members of an IRB.


[Melissa R. Michelson, “The Risk of Over-Reliance on the Institutional Review Board: An Approved Project Is Not Always an Ethical Project,” PS: Political Science & Politics 49, no. 02 (April 2016): 299–303, doi:10.1017/S104909651600024X.]

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Call for Chapters: Virtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research

Nathan Emmerich has secured a contract for a 2017 book on Virtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research. He seeks additional contributors. See the call for chapters.

Texas A&M IRB Imposed Review for Surveys of Public Officials

In their contribution to the PS symposium, Kenneth Meiera and Apolonia Calderona complain of IRB interference in work that is clearly exempt or not even human subjects research.


[Kenneth J. Meier and M. Apolonia Calderon, “Goal Displacement and the Protection of Human Subjects: The View from Public Administration,” PS: Political Science & Politics 49, no. 02 (April 2016): 294–98, doi:10.1017/S1049096516000238.]

Saturday, May 7, 2016

IRB Chair: "Nobody Really Knows" If IRBs Do Any Good

A former chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Education and Social/Behavioral Science IRB guesses that IRB review “most likely” protects subjects from harm, but concedes that “nobody really knows.” He also notes that it consumes tens of thousands of hours of work, mostly by researchers, at his university each year.


[Kenneth R. Mayer, “Working through the Unworkable? The View from Inside an Institutional Review Board,” PS: Political Science & Politics 49, no. 02 (April 2016): 289–93, doi:10.1017/S1049096516000226.]