Monday, December 31, 2012

Sociologists Call for IRB Moratorium

To close out the year, I briefly note a piece that appeared online at the start of 2011, but which I came across only recently. Three sociologists call for a "moratorium on IRB review for social scientific audit research involving non-institutionalized, mentally competent adult subjects," but their reasons are unclear.

[Hessler, Richard M., D. J. Donnell-Watson, and John F. Galliher. "A Case for Limiting the Reach of Institutional Review Boards." American Sociologist 42, no. 1 (January 29, 2011): 145–152. doi:10.1007/s12108-011-9122-5.]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Is Ethics Review Like a Building Permit?

In the course of his response to Dyck and Allen, David Hunter also challenges claims by Whitney and Schneider that ethics review costs lives by delaying research for months or years. I am unpersuaded by Hunter's claims.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dunn and Hunter Defend Mandatory Review

The Journal of Medical Ethics has published two responses to Murray Dyck and Gary Allen's August 2012 article, “Is Mandatory Research Ethics Reviewing Ethical?” The responses do little to grapple with what I take to be the article's major's proposal.

[Michael Dunn, “Getting the Justification for Research Ethics Review Right.” Journal of Medical Ethics (October 31, 2012). doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-100943; David Hunter, “How Not to Argue Against Mandatory Ethics Review.” Journal of Medical Ethics (December 12, 2012). doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-101074.]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Law Professor Decries, Ponders IRB Variability

Christopher Robertson, associate professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, laments the variation in IRB policies and practices from one institution to another and sees it as an opportunity for research.

[Christopher Robertson, "Variability in Local IRB Regulation: A Gold Mine for Future Research," Bill of Health, November 24, 2012.]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prisoners Find Interview Research Rewarding

A team of researchers finds that prisoners who participated in interview research "reported some intangible benefits and no harms or negative consequences. They also reported the interviews as being a positive and rewarding experience and uniformly said that they had not been subject to coercive persuasion."

[Heith Copes, Andy Hochstetler, and Anastasia Brown. “Inmates’ Perceptions of the Benefits and Harm of Prison Interviews.” Field Methods (November 21, 2012). doi: 10.1177/1525822X12465798. h/t Dan T. A. Eisenberg]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Northeastern U. IRB Makes Sex Research Untenable

Carey Noland, associate professor of communcation studies at Northeastern University, complains that "many IRBs . . . seem to have difficulty accurately assessing the potential harm involved with qualitative research on sex."

[Carey M. Noland, “Institutional Barriers to Research on Sensitive Topics: Case of Sex Communication Research Among University Students.” Journal of Research Practice 8, no. 1 (November 24, 2012): Article M2,]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Expedited Review Reaches the Institutional Review Blog

Today this blog is six years old. Proud as I am of its reception and impact, I find it increasingly difficult to comment on all relevant items while fulfilling my other professional responsibilities.

In the hope of reducing burden, delay, and ambiguity for myself and my readers, I plan to note briefly some items I come across, offering only a line or two of commentary rather than the more thorough analysis I have aimed for in many of my entries.

If this goes well I may adopt this format for the bulk of items I mention. I hope this will allow me to bring readers' attention to otherwise disparate items in less time than I have spent in the past.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

NIH Policy Makes Interviewing Children Easier

Susan Ridgely, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, finds that IRBs can cause trouble for qualitative researchers who want to talk with children, but that IRB review has some benefits. Moreover, since the NIH started calling for children to be included in medical studies, she is finding it easier to get IRB permission to speak to children.

[Susan B. Ridgely, “Doing Ethnography with Child Consultants: Making the IRB Process Work.” Journal of American Folklore 125, no. 3 (2012): 474–485.]

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Marakowitz Reviews Ethical Imperialism

Ellen Marakowitz, a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University and a member of the Columbia IRB, reviews Ethical Imperialism for Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors. She finds it "a well-documented history of the impact of institutional review boards on social science research in the United States," but wishes I had paid more attention to IRBs' potential to help researchers "think critically about their practices, including potential risks to subjects."

[Ellen Marakowitz, "Regulated Research" (Review of Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965–2009 by Zachary M. Schrag), Academe November-December 2012.]