Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ball State Student Finds IRB Instructions "Impersonal, Dry, and Long"

Stephanie Hedge, a PhD Candidate at Ball State University in Rhetoric and Composition, describes how IRB requirements aggravated her difficulties in "persuading students to be my guinea pigs for a semester."

[Stephanie Hedge, "Successfully Recruiting Research Participants," Inside Higher Ed, 20 March 2012.]

Hedge writes,

The initial solicitation emails that I sent out, per IRB regulations, were dense, intimidating walls of text. They are impersonal, dry, and long. Small wonder, then, that few students bothered to click through to the survey itself, particularly given that the link is buried down at the bottom. During my classroom visits, I directed students to the survey instead of to me, adding an extra step to the process. My directions were too complicated, and mired in dense IRB language. However, once I began handing around a sheet for students to put their names and email addresses, students signed up in droves. Nothing fancy, just a simple sign up sheet.

Hedge does state that "there are lots of ways to work within your specific IRB rules and regulations to find support."

Without the details of her project or the language required by her IRB, it's impossible to know how bad this case is. Still, Hedge's account raises the question of why any project in rhetoric and composition would require an intimidating wall of text.

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