Elzbieta M Gozdziak emg27 at georgetown.edu
Sun Apr 1 19:40:52 EDT 2007

These are wonderful references.  I used them in many of my IRB applications. One caveat though, NSF has an 'anthropology program' so of course they understand better anthropological methodologies and ethnographic methods. A multidisciplinary IRB needs more explanation.  On the other hand, I have learnt a lot from the GU IRB (as well as from doing multidisciplinary research with collegues from social work, psychology, etc.) and would not dream of doing a project without going through an IRB process. I have even incorporated IRB exercises in my applied and medical anthropology classes because I find that students are not exposed to questions of research ethics to the extent that they should be to enter a workforce. 

At the SfAAs last week, several of us were talking about organizing a session for the following AAAs on ethics and IRBs.


Elzbieta M. Gozdziak, Ph.D.
Research Director
Editor, International Migration
Georgetown University
Harris Building
3300 Whitehaven St NW
Suite 3100
Washington, DC 20007
Tel: 202-687-2193
Fax: 202-687-2541
e-mail: emg27 at georgetown.edu

----- Original Message -----
From: "Patty A. Gray" <ffpag at uaf.edu>
Date: Saturday, March 31, 2007 9:11 pm
Subject: [URBANTH-L]IRB woes

> There has been a great deal of discussion on this in recent years -
> I 
> think you will find plenty of support. I would recommend first of 
> all 
> the forum in the November 2006 issue of American Ethnologist 
> (Vol.33, 
> No.4, pp.478-548) titled "IRBs, Bureaucratic Regulation, and 
> Academic 
> Freedom." I would direct you in particular to the article by 
> Deborah 
> Winslow of the National Science Foundation - she demostrates the 
> ways 
> that NSF policy supports ethnographic research, which can be 
> useful 
> ammunition in the face of an IRB dominated by natural scientists 
> who may 
> have difficulty understanding.
> There is also useful discussions of IRB issues in an article by 
> Edward 
> Bruner in the January 2004 Anthropology News. His advice is to 
> work 
> steadily to educate one's IRB, while remaining cooperative. The 
> goal 
> would be to make sure there is at least one social scientist on 
> your 
> institution's IRB, and indeed if the IRB is reviewing social 
> science 
> protocols, there is a strong case to be made for why social 
> science 
> expertise is needed on the board.
> At my institution, we are lucky that we have an IRB that includes 
> social 
> scientists and that is very understanding about the nature of 
> social 
> science research. I find that I still have to adapt the 
> biomedically-oriented IRB application form to my own purposes - 
> many 
> questions are simply inappropriate for ethnographic research. In 
> those 
> cases, I first explain what question should have been asked, and 
> then I 
> answer that question. Often what I am proposing in my application 
> exceeds the ethical requirements implied by the original question, 
> such 
> as insisting (with careful and patient explanation) that requiring 
> signed consent forms in some cases would do harm to research 
> "subjects." 
> You are right - most ethnographic studies should be "exempt," i.e. 
> subject only to the minimal IRB review.
> Hang in there - you really are not alone, and there are resources 
> you 
> can draw upon.
> Patty Gray
> University of Alaska Fairbanks
> 1. IRB vows and woes (Annegret Staiger)
> I am running into problems with our Institutional Review Board for 
> gettingmy research proposal approved. My institution, which has no 
> social science
> faculty on its board and is mostly reviewing pscychology, medical and
> technology research proposals, regards participant observation as 
> a 
> research
> method that requires a consentforms and a full IRB proposal. This 
> is of
> course extremely impractical, if not impossible to do when doing field
> research in a natural setting.  From colleagues I am hearing that 
> theirIRB's are usually providing an exemption for anthropological 
> research,unless it deals with vulnerable populations.
> Using this forum, I would like to find out how other 
> anthropologists have
> dealt with their institution's reviewboards and how they have 
> managed to 
> not
> let the IRB stiffle their research.
> Annegret Staiger
> Clarkson University
> -- 
> Dr. Patty A. Gray
> Assistant Professor
> Graduate Coordinator
> Department of Anthropology
> University of Alaska Fairbanks
> 312B Eielson Bldg.
> P.O. Box 757720
> Fairbanks, AK  99775-7720
> U.S.A.
> Tel. (907) 474-6188
> Fax (907) 474-7453
> http://www.uaf.edu/anthro
> http://www.faculty.uaf.edu/ffpag/chukotka.html
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