Patty Gray ffpag at uaf.edu
Mon Apr 2 11:46:22 EDT 2007

Just a clarification: for IRB purposes "exempt" does not mean you are
avoiding the IRB. ALL *research* must be cleared through the IRB. "Exempt"
status means you undergo an expedited review. There was a recent ruling
that oral history does not constitute "research" and therefore is not
subject to any IRB review at all (see Anthropology News November 2003).
Oral history projects are not "exempt" - they are "excluded" from IRB
review. Some have argued have argued that this is not a helpful trend,
because it could render oral history as something trivial, not as serious
as "real" research. Others have tried to use it as a precedent to make
ethnographic research excluded from IRB review. I don't think ethnographic
research should be excluded, and I do not mind undergoing IRB review. The
main issue, I believe, is the wide-ranging and sometimes errant
interpretations of federal regulations made by some IRBs at some
institutions - as was pointed out in one of the responses. That is why it
is so important for we as researchers to be well-educated about these
matters, and to proactively educate our own IRBs.

Patty Gray

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Dr. Patty A. Gray
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of Alaska Fairbanks
310 Eielson Bldg.
Fairbanks, AK 99775
tel (907) 474-6188
fax (907) 474-7453

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