Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Research Protection Process a Nightmare

There is no doubt that past researchers have abused people participating in their research. We needed to step in and protect them. But the process has become a farce ... a joke. We need protection from the protectors.

I have participated in the Institutional Review Board process at four research universities. Each has been progressively more bureaucratic, small-minded, and simply idiotic. And in each case, the roadblocks thrown in front of my research have had nothing to do with the protection of human subjects.

I have been stalled for:
  • Incorrect margins on the template they supplied
  • Incorrect font size
  • Failure to provide sample responses when application clearly stated "yes/no"
  • Failure to provide demographic questions based on the university's questions

There have been many more inane such stalling frustrations. In the meantime, hooking people up to sensors has never been of concern. This is the problem. We are no longer protecting subjects. We are protecting our legal rear ends. And the bureaucracy is spiraling out-of-control.

A prominent psychophysiologist once told me that if they IRBs got any worse, she would be tempted to move into industry. If she had been at OSU, I imagine that point would have been surpassed. You see, down the road in Cincinnati at Proctor & Gamble, they do not have a governmental IRB. They do what they want. They look out for their research participants because it is the right thing to do and it keeps them out of court. But I seriously doubt they ever question the font size on an application.

I submitted my first IRB application at OSU today. Stay tuned for the results.


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