Monday, October 31, 2016

Qualitative Sociologists Find Standard Randomness

Sociologists Sarah Babb, Lara Birk, and Luka Carfagna surveyed qualitative sociologists about their IRB experiences and heard many of the usual horror stories, from insistence on inappropriate consent forms to the dribbling out of concerns over several rounds of comments. Few of their respondents are happy with the present system, though getting the right people in key positions can help.

[Sarah Babb, Lara Birk, and Luka Carfagna, “Standard Bearers: Qualitative Sociologists’ Experiences with IRB Regulation,” American Sociologist, October 6, 2016, 1–17, doi:10.1007/s12108–016–9331-z. Note: I read a version of this article in manuscript and am so credited in the article.]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Final Rule in 2016?

Theresa Defino reports that OHRP “hopes to get ‘something’ out by year end.”

If OHRP were to liberate oral history on the 10th anniversary of this blog, that would be OK with me.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Brazil calls for "equitable representation from the Social Sciences and Humanities"

Brazil is revising its research ethics standards in ways that will help tailor them to research in the social sciences and the humanities. The standards provide for greater representation by scholars in those fields when policies and decisions are made, and they decenter some of the medical assumptions that had previously governed all research. But they do not go as far as the Canadian TCPS2 in recognizing the legitimacy of critical inquiry.

[Iara Coelho Zito Guerriero, “Approval of the Resolution Governing the Ethics of Research in Social Sciences, the Humanities, and Other Disciplines That Use Methodologies Characteristic of These Areas: Challenges and Achievements,” Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 21, no. 8 (August 2016): 2619–29, doi:10.1590/1413–81232015218.17212016.]

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"One more impediment to getting a worthwhile project done"

A final horror story posted in response to Patricia Aufderheide’s essay, “Does This Have to Go Through the IRB?."

Brian Abel Ragen writes,

Eventually you will probably find a reasonable person to stop the nonsense. That was my experience when one of my graduate students was told that his plan to interview a writer for the New York Review of Books meant he was using “human subjects” and therefore needed to submit his thesis proposal to the IRB after filling out all the appropriate forms and applications. A student asking a professional literary critic why he had championed the reputation of a certain novelist was, quite rightly, seen as an interaction WITH a fellow human being, not research ON a human subject. But that should have been obvious from the beginning. What the whole process did for me as an English professor and my student in the humanities was to create just one more impediment to getting a worthwhile project done—this new obstacle laced with fear of getting in trouble with the Federal government if we made a mistake. It also protected a writer from hearing from someone who admired his work and wanted to explore it with him for a few weeks. So I would say that the limits of the IRB’s powers need to be more clearly drawn, so as to remove one more hazard from the already obstacle-strewn path to completing a degree or a research project. I won’t say that i can’t imagine projects in literary studies that don’t involve using people as actual “human subjects,” but I think the default assumption should be that any project that involves neither deception nor asking the interlocutor to do anything but talk about something is beyond the scope of an IRB.

An IRB need not block a project to discourage curiosity.