Sunday, March 19, 2006

From the IRB front

One thing I did when I traveled to Arkansas (my home institution) was to check in with the IRB (Institution Review Board) who oversees the use of human subjects in research. I'm in a kind of sticky situation since I didn't decide to use my class (my students really) for my research until the class was nearly over. Literally, my husband (who taught one section of the class) and I were driving to work together talking about how successful the class had been when he told me I should use it to finish up my Ph.D. So I didn't get prior informed consent from my students to use their work in my research.

In talking with the people at the IRB at Arkansas, they thought this wouldn't be too big of a problem, considering that the nature of the use of human subjects in my research is pretty minor. I've had to get the IRB at Bryn Mawr involved because the students are Bryn Mawr students even though the research is for the U of A. Sheesh the complications. I think I've thoroughly confused the IRB chair at BMC because no one has ever done this type of research before. Mostly we deal with Science and Psychology research or research with minors. Using student writing just hasn't been done here. So here I am, someone who's never had to go through the IRB before confronting someone at the IRB who's never dealt with my kind of research before. Should be fun for all.

I would gladly take recommendations, comments, thoughts from those of you familiar with the IRB process.

I don't know what I'll do if I don't get approved. I can hope to teach the course again in the fall and get prior approval. I can write a theoretical dissertation that leaves out the data from the class itself (which seems crazy). I think it will be okay. Really I do.

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