Bioethics Blogs

Willingham Denies Misleading UNC IRB

Mary Willingham, accused by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of diverging from the protocol she showed her IRB, states that the IRB always knew her plans.

[Wilson, Robin. “Chapel Hill Researcher’s Findings on Athletes’ Literacy Bring a Backlash.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 24, 2014.]

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports,

Daniel K. Nelson, director of the university’s office of human-­research ethics, who oversees the institutional review boards, issued a statement saying he had not been pressured by university administrators into requesting that Ms. Willingham seek IRB approval.

He said it had simply become clear with the release of her research results that identifying details were in fact maintained in her data set. (Ms. Willingham has never publicly identified her research subjects.)

But Ms. Willingham says that nothing has changed since she sought approval from the review board before her research began, and that review­board officials told her she didn’t need it. Since she screened her student subjects over time, she says, she has had to keep track of their identities—something she says the IRB knew all along.

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