Friday, June 19, 2015

Chilling Effects

Leon Neyfakh’s essay on Alice Goffman’s methods illustrates the dangers of researchers’ anticipating, rather than documenting, IRB restrictions on their work.

[Leon Neyfakh, “The Ethics of Ethnography,” Slate, June 18, 2015.]

Goffman's Tightrope

Two new articles add useful context to the debate about Alice Goffman’s On the Run. Together, they show just how narrow a path Goffman was walking between privacy and verifiability, and between scholarship and good writing. I will address the IRB issues in a separate post.

[Jesse Singal, “The Internet Accused Alice Goffman of Faking Details In Her Study of a Black Neighborhood. I Went to Philadelphia to Check,” Science of Us, June 18, 2015.; Leon Neyfakh, “The Ethics of Ethnography,” Slate, June 18, 2015.]

Monday, June 8, 2015

PRIM&R Meets with OIRA

Elisa Hurley, executive director of PRIM&R, reports that representatives of her organization met with officials from the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to discuss a potential notice of proposed rule making (NPRM).

[Elisa Hurley, “PRIM&R Meets with OMB to Offer Input on Proposed Changes to the ‘Common Rule,’” Ampersand, June 8, 2015.]

Recall that PRIM&R’s comments on the 2011 ANPRM were ignorant of the concerns of qualitative researchers, particularly historians, misleading about the responsibility of IRBs for bad consent forms, and contemptuous of the goal of efficiency.

I hope OIRA will hear from other parties as well.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Klitzman Wants "Case Law." As Did Katz, 42 Years Ago

In an opinion piece drawn from his new book, The Ethics Police?, Robert Klitzman calls for IRB transparency and respect for precedent. That is a good idea, and one that should have been implemented decades ago.

[Robert Klitzman, “Who Polices the ‘Ethics Police’?,” CNN, May 26, 2015]

Why Notes Get Shredded

While Steven Lubet criticizes Alice Goffman for having “shredded all of her field notes,” Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service prosecutes Ivor Bell based on an interview seized by subpoena.

How are those shield laws coming, Josh?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Berkeley IRB: 1 + 1 = Undue Influence

In a series of four tweets, Nicholas Christakis of Yale reports a horror story out of Berkeley:

  • colleague’s experience with Berkeley IRB: including both the following sentences in an appeal for a survey may result in undo influence.

  • sayeth the IRB: so just pick one of 2 sentences “Your participation would mean a lot to me and help my research.”

  • sayeth the IRB: so just pick one: “Many of your neighbors are participating, and I’d like to hear your opinion, too.”

  • 100,000 people die from medical care yearly, none die from surveys, & our IRB’s are wordsmithing to avoid undue influence?

Earnest Member Reads the Belmont Report

My favorite portion of The Censor’s Hand is Schneider’s invention of Earnest Member, a conscientious gentleman with good intentions but no ethical training until he is appointed to the IRB and handed copies of what Schneider terms the Sacred Texts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Schneider: IRB System Is A Model of How to Regulate Badly

In an interview about his new book, The Censor’s Hand: The Misregulation of Human-Subject Research, law professor Carl Schneider charges that IRB abuses are inherent to the design of the system.

[Scott Jaschik, “‘The Censor’s Hand’,” Inside Higher Ed, June 3, 2015.]