I haven’t mentioned it here before, but I’m currently working on a project to launch an online dialogue at my university (using a weblog, of course) to engage different members of the campus community with the question of what they think the college experience here ought to be, and how we can make that happen. The project team has a bunch of great people on it, and we thought we had anticipated all the “stake holders” at the university from whom we ought to seek “buy-in”.
As we were poised to execute the project, we discovered that we had forgotten one:
The Institutional Review Board.
Yes indeedy, the IRB. See, because we’ll be inviting students, as well as faculty, staff, and administrators, to participate by contributing blog posts and commenting on blog posts, we need to go through the whole rigamarole of getting the dialogue approved as “research with human subjects”. I do not know that we would be expected to do this if we were just inviting interested parties to show up and participate in a two-hour discussion in a room somewhere on campus. (Frankly, having committed the question to words, I fear that I may receive an affirmative answer.)
Well, if this is what must be done, we’ll do it. I already have my piece of paper on file indicating I passed the online human subjects training quiz (which has much more to do with biomedical research than social science research, let alone … having a dialogue). I know how to complete the paperwork for the IRB (having done it before).
But I think I’ll reread this post on “educating” your IRB before I write up our “protocol”. I have to at least try to pull the bureaucratic machinery in the direction of common sense.
Wish me luck!