Bioethics Blogs

Addressing the Challenges Posed by Student Research

by Bruce W. Kennedy, MS, RLATG, CMAR, CPIA, compliance associate at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Ten years ago, I started as compliance associate at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. My position fell under the school’s newly created Office of Research, and my responsibilities centered around regulatory tasks that had previously been performed “on-the-side” by others. Early on it was recognized that better practices and policies were needed to serve principal investigators (PIs) working in human subjects and animal research. My assignment was to further develop the program, which I did through membership in PRIM&R, studying for my Certified Professional IACUC Administration (CPIA®) credential, and consulting with colleagues.

Now, I work primarily with social, behavioral, and educational research (SBER) protocols submitted by students and their faculty mentors. Fortunately, access to information about SBER is even easier thanks to webinars like Reviewing Student Research: Best Practices and Future Directions, which was presented by J. Michael Oakes, PhD, and Amy King, MPH, in July. I initially signed up for the webinar hoping it would validate the program we’ve implemented at my institution, and more importantly, give us ideas for improvements. I was not disappointed.

One issue that the webinar touched on was what constitutes generalizable knowledge, which is no clearer when it comes to student SBER, than it is with biomedical research. Often students carve out a piece of a larger study being conducted by a professor for their research. The data from the student’s research is then used to inform the larger research project, and, as a result, may contribute to generalizable knowledge more directly.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.