To remain “unprotected” by my university’s IRB system—to remain vulnerable—is to remain highly aware of my obligations to those I interview for my work. Without the supposed “protection” of my IRB, I am aware of how, if I hurt my interviewees, they might well want to hurt me back. At some level, I think it best for my subjects that I keep my kneecaps exposed.
Compare this stance to the position put forward by Charles Bosk in 2004:
Prospective review strikes me as generally one more inane bureaucratic requirement in one more bureaucratic set of procedures, ill-suited to accomplish the goals that it is intended to serve. Prospective review, flawed a process as it is, does not strike me as one social scientists should resist.
Who takes research ethics more seriously: the researcher who submits to inane requirements, or the researcher who resists?
For more on Dreger's work, see The Psychologist Who Would Be Journalist.