Friday, November 7, 2014

New Book on Research Confidentiality

Ted Palys and John Lowman have published Protecting Research Confidentiality: What Happens When Law and Ethics Collide.

[Palys, Ted, and John Lowman. Protecting Research Confidentiality: What Happens When Law and Ethics Collide. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 2014.]

Over the years, I've learned a great deal from these two scholars about the ethics and law of research confidentiality in the social sciences, and I look forward to reading this compendium of what they have learned from their studies and their own struggles with their university.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

OHRP Claims to Be "Working Very Hard" on NPRM

Writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Christopher Shea notes that though two years passed between the 2012 Future of Human Subjects Research Regulation conference at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the publication of the conference volume in July 2014, the delay of the next step in regulatory reform--a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)--means that the book remains timely.

[Shea, Christopher. “New Rules for Human-Subject Research Are Delayed and Debated.” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2014.]

One also hopes that it won't be timely forever. Shea writes,

A spokesman for the Office for Human Research Protections, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, could not provide a timetable but told The Chronicle late last month, "I can assure you that this continues to be an HHS priority, and all the relevant parties are still working very hard on this."

Or, as they might have put it, "We have top men working on it right now."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

University of Washington IRB Demanded Dangerous Consent Form

The recent Nature story on ethics consultancies includes an example of counterproductive interference by an intransigent IRB.

[Dolgin, Elie. “Human-Subjects Research: The Ethics Squad.” Nature 514, no. 7523 (October 21, 2014): 418–20. doi:10.1038/514418a.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ethics Consultancies—A Non-Coercive Alternative to IRBs?

For some time, I've thought that the real problem with IRBs may be the coercive power granted to them. This relieves them of the need to make arguments strong enough to persuade researchers, and in some cases leads them instead to make demands based weak or even wrongheaded thinking.

This week, Nature reports on an alternative (or supplementary) model, the ethics consultancy.

[Dolgin, Elie. “Human-Subjects Research: The Ethics Squad.” Nature 514, no. 7523 (October 21, 2014): 418–20. doi:10.1038/514418a.]

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Briefly Noted: Whitney, Bell, Elliott

Lacking time for full comment, I briefly note the publication of these two important, critical essays. Citations omitted from the quoted passages.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You Can't Ask That

The Washington Monthly's fall college issue features my essay on IRBs. Nothing that will surprise regular readers of this blog, but perhaps this will reach new readers.

[Schrag, Zachary M. “You Can’t Ask That.” Washington Monthly, September/October 2014.]

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bell: Ethnography Shouldn't Be Like Victorian Sex

Writing in American Anthropologist, Kirsten Bell argues that ethnography should not be seen as a violation to which an informant must consent, and "although the concept of informed consent has now been enshrined in the AAA Code of Ethics for more than 15 years, the reality is that it is not an appropriate standard with which to judge ethnographic fieldwork."

[Bell, Kirsten. "Resisting Commensurability: Against Informed Consent as an Anthropological Virtue." American Anthropologist, July 21, 2014, doi:10.1111/aman.12122.]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Most IRB Chairs Can't Recognize Exempt Research or Non-Research

A study of criminal justice researchers' knowledge of IRB rules has found that IRB chairs can't agree on what makes a project exempt from review and think that IRB review is needed for public records. The authors of the study, one of whom is an IRB chair, seem not to realize the significance of these findings.

[Tartaro, Christine, and Marissa P. Levy. "Criminal Justice Professionals' Knowledge of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and Compliance with IRB Protocol." Journal of Criminal Justice Education 25, no. 3 (2014): 321–41. doi:10.1080/10511253.2014.902982.]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

UCSD Frees Oral History and Journalism

The University of California, San Diego, has determined that most projects by historians and journalists need not be submitted to the IRB.