[URBANTH-L]ethnography and IRB outside of academia

chesluk at ix.netcom.com chesluk at ix.netcom.com
Tue Aug 26 16:07:29 EDT 2008

Dear fellow urbanists,

Several weeks ago I wrote in asking for help or advice from anyone working outside of academia who'd had experience getting IRB approval for ethnographic research. I also promised to share the fruits of my request, so, here goes: Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. The AAA assures me they plan to look into this at some time in the near future. Several respondents suggested that my organization (the American Board of Internal Medicine) start its own IRB. One person let me know they had success working with a private IRB (such as the Essex or New England IRB) on an ethnographic study, though this took quite a bit of work on both sides. In short: there seems to be no straightforward approach to getting IRB approval for ethnographic research outside of academia.

I remain open to learning more from fellow researchers' experiences, and if I learn something new of value I will pass it along to the group.

Ben Chesluk

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