Bioethics Blogs

Horror Story Buffet

We end the year with two collections of IRB horror stories.

[Varma, R. “Questioning Professional Autonomy in Qualitative Inquiry.” IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 33, no. 4 (winter 2014): 57–64. doi:10.1109/MTS.2014.2363983; Glenda Droogsma Musoba, Stacy A. Jacob, and Leslie J. Robinson, The Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Faculty: Does the IRB Challenge Faculty Professionalism in the Social Sciences? Qualitative Report 19 (2014), Article 101, 1-14,]

From Varma:

  • “According to a researcher, the IRB did not understand why his research questions were not converted into a hypothesis to be easily tested. Additionally, the IRB was not in agreement with his need to conduct face-to-face interviews with human subjects. Alternatively, the IRB expressed that administering an anonymous survey could collect the same information.”
  • “The IRB told a researcher that the snowball sampling that he had proposed was similar to collecting data from friends. In his experience, purposive sampling, interviews, and small sample size do not generally fall in line with IRB approval standards. They tend to favor surveys with a large sample that is selected randomly.”
  • “The IRB took over eight months to approve an application to study the selection of majors in institutions of higher education.”
  • “In the study on teaching mathematics in a developing country . . . the IRB contested that subjects may feel bored or tired during interviews.”
  • “earlier informed consents were brief, approximately 100 to 200 words. Now they consist of . . . multiple headings [each with] a brief write up.”
  • “In a developing country [participants] became apprehensive in reading the statement about possible concerns about interview, and the idea that they could call/contact the person listed on the consent form, who was located in the United States.

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.