Ethical Aggravation

>> Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So I'm doing this research project for school and one of the ~fun~ bits is that I have to jump through hoops to get approval for it from an ethics board. Got a response to my application yesterday ... and one of the things that just made me grind my teeth is that according to them, no way no how I am allowed to discuss any aspect of my research on my blogs.

Not even though my research is only about reading habits, not anything potentially sensitive.

And not even if I build it into my consent form, which is what I wanted to do.

I am sorely tempted to just pitch the entire survey of emerging adult readers then - too many hoops to jump through for that aspect of it. Not only am I not allowed to talk about emerging adults and reading if I do the survey, I would also have to use the system they tell me and have that system save the 'signed' consents and so on for each user.

I guess I'll just limit myself to available resources and to hell with the hoop jumping.

I understand that they have to have guidelines but this is ludicrous. What is the point of learning if you're not allowed to share it? Ever?


  • Kelly

    Seems like everywhere we go, someone wants to censor us.


  • flit

    I could understand it if I was doing research into people's toiletting habits or something... but come on ... what's the last book you bought and how did you find out about it?

    And not like I'd be talking about it as in so and so bought ....even... general info like "more than half heard about the book online" is just not that ~sensitive~

  • Patricia Rockwell

    I understand your frustration. I was on the receiving end of many restrictions on my research from our Human Subjects Review Board. However, as I have mentioned before on one of your blogs I believe, I served on my University's Human Subjects Review Board for several years and actually saw how and why many of these projects were reviewed the way they were.
    First, let me say that you have much support in the academic community. Many scholars are annoyed with the over "protection" that such boards impose--particularly in fields where it is virtually impossible to harm subjects (such as Literature). With that said, I have also seen the opposite end--professors and graduate students who wanted to do research that involved such things as--asking elementary students which of their classmates they liked and disliked the most, surveying teens about their sexual, drug, and alcohol use habits, and various other projects that to the minds of the researcher seemed innocuous--but when we as a committee considered it, we realized that it might prove harmful--either physically or emotionally--to the subjects. Yes, such committees can go overboard some times, but keep in mind, when you finally have their approval, they will support you if you run into any complaints about the ethics of your research down the line.

    Good luck!

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