Field Research and US Institutional Review Board Policy
Sponsored by the Betty Glad Memorial Fund in the Political Science Department, University of Utah
March 20 [8:45 am - 5:30 pm] and March 21 [9:00 am - 3:30 pm]
ALL panels in Child Family Community Hall (room 7180), Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building EXCEPT Keynote Speech in Hinckley Caucus Room, OSH 255
US Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy with respect to human subjects was created to protect human participants from harms caused by research. It institutionalizes three ethical principles: respect for persons, beneficence (do no harm), and a just distribution of the benefits and burdens of research. The federal policy has been shaped in light of research following an experimental design, a model that often does not fit the exigencies of field research. This symposium is intended to explore the ethical dimensions of social scientific field research, including those not envisioned in the federal policy.
Keynote speaker: Dr. Zachary Schrag, History and Art History, George Mason University
"'The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect': Political Science, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Review Boards in Historical Perspective" Video
March 20, 11-12.30, Hinckley Caucus Room, OSH 255
Historian Zachary Schrag is one of the leading scholars exploring US institutional review board policy with regard to the social sciences. Author of Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009 (2010), he has maintained a blog on the topic since 2006 http://www.institutionalreviewblog.com/.
The lead title of his keynote address, "The Freedoms We Are Committed to Protect," is a line from Ithiel de Sola Pool, a political scientist and founder of MIT's political science department, who played a key role in the history of IRB policy. Although Professor de Sola Pool died on March 11, 1984, his critiques of IRBs are still quite relevant to today's debates. The keynote address roughly marks the 30th anniversary of his death.
- Lee Ann Fujii, Political Science, University of Toronto, 2013-2014 Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation
- Samantha Majic, Political Science, John Jay College, City University of New York
- Timothy Pachirat, Politics, New School for Social Research
- Jacqueline Stevens, Political Science, Northwestern University, 2013-2014 Guggenheim Fellow
Panel and Roundtable Participants
- Ed Buendia, Education, Culture and Society, University of Utah
- Marianna di Paolo, Anthropology, University of Utah
- John Francis, Political Science, University of Utah
- Caren Frost, College of Social Work, University of Utah
- Rick Green, Political Science, University of Utah
- Samuel Handlin, Political Science, University of Utah
- Claudio Holzner, Political Science, University of Utah
- Daniel Levin, Political Science, University of Utah
- Jenny Mackenzie, PhD., Documentary Film Maker
- Dan McCool, Political Science, University of Utah
- Ella Myers, Political Science, University of Utah
- Lenora Olson, Public Health, University of Utah
- Susan Olson, Law and Society Association, Executive Officer; Political Science (Emerita), University of Utah
- Polly Wiessner, Anthropology, University of Utah
- Jennifer Yim, Political Science (ABD), University of Utah
- Panel 1Doing Undercover Research (9:00 am March 20); Presenter abstract
- Panel 2 Roundtable: Assessing Graduate Student Education in Research Ethics Across the Disciplines (2:00 pm March 20)
- Panel 3Is IRB Policy Redefining the Meaning of Ethics in Field Research? (4:00 pm March 20); Presenter abstracts
- Panel 4Regulating Researchers Who Study the State (Elected and appointed officials, public administrators, judges, ….) (9:00 am March 21); Presenter abstract
- Panel 5 Roundtable: Legal and Other Perspectives on IRBs—Regulatory Policy, Common Law, Academic Freedom and Documentary Film-Making (11:00 am March 21)
- Panel 6 Roundtable: Looking Forward, Anticipating Change - Wrapping Up (2:00 pm March 21)
|Lee Ann Fujii is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto and currently a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. She is the author of Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda (Cornell University Press, 2009) and is currently writing her second book, Putting on a Show: Scenes of Atrocity in Bosnia, Rwanda, and the United States. It investigates the performative dimensions of lethal episodes across the three sites to understand how and why people become involved in collective violence. Her articles have appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Peace Research, Security Studies, and other venues. Her work has received generous funding from Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER), the Connaught New Researcher Program, the United States Institute of Peace, and Dilthey faculty grants from George Washington University. In addition to Russell Sage, Prof. Fujii has also benefited from fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Center's Eastern Europe Program.|
|Samantha Majic is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, John Jay College, City University of New York. Her research interests are in gender and American politics, with specific interests in sex work, civic engagement, institutionalism, and the nonprofit sector. She is the author of Sex Work Politics: From Protest to Service Provision (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) and co-editor (with Carisa Showden) of Negotiating Sex Work: Unintended Consequences of Policy and Activism (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). Her research has also appeared or is forthcoming in Perspectives on Politics, Polity, New Political Science, and The Journal of Women, Politics and Policy. A Fellow of the American Association of University Women, Dr. Majic is also a member of the Perspectives on Politics editorial board.|
|Timothy Pachirat works as an assistant professor in the Department of Politics at the New School for Social Research. His research and teaching interests include comparative politics, the politics of Southeast Asia, spatial and visual politics, the sociology of domination and resistance, the political economy of dirty and dangerous work, critical animal studies, and interpretive and ethnographic research methods. Pachirat's work has received awards from the American Political Science Association's Section on Qualitative Methods and from the Association's Labor Project. He is author of Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (Yale University Press, 2011), a political ethnography of immigrant labor on the kill floor of an industrialized slaughterhouse which explores how violence that is seen as both essential and repugnant to modern society is organized, disciplined, regulated, and reproduced.|
|Zachary M. Schrag is Professor, Department of History and Art History, George Mason University. Some of his publications on the regulation of research include "The Case against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences," Research Ethics 7 (2011): 120-131; Ethical Imperialism: Institutional Review Boards and the Social Sciences, 1965-2009 (2010); and "Ethical Training for Oral Historians" in Perspectives: Newsletter of the American Historical Association (2007). He was also editor of a special issue of the Journal of Policy History (2011) on human subjects regulations in several countries. He served on the American Association of University Professors Subcommittee on Academic Freedom and the Institutional Review Board. Since 2006, he has maintained the Institutional Review Blog, www.institutionalreviewblog.com/. His first book is The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro (2006), soon to be reissued in paperback.|
|Peregrine Schwartz-Shea is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Utah. She published her early research using experimental methods and rational choice theory in such journals as American Political Science Review, Public Choice, and Rationality and Society. Shifting theoretical interests lead to research focusing on methodological practices in political science, published in Political Research Quarterly and PS: Political Science and Politics. With Dvora Yanow she is coeditor of the Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods, and their coauthored Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (2012) is the first volume in the series. They have been collaborating on institutional review board policy research since 2006. Professor Schwartz-Shea is past president of the Western Political Science Association (2012-13) and recipient of a University of Utah Graduate Student Mentor Award (2012) and a National Science Foundation grant to co-organize the Workshop on Interpretive Methodologies in Political Science (2009).|
|Jacqueline Stevens is Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University, a 2013-14 Guggenheim Fellow, and Director of Northwestern's Deportation Research Clinic and Buffett Center on International and Comparative Studies. Professor Stevens conducts research on political theories and practices of political membership since antiquity. Her current studies of deportation law enforcement engage European fantasies of conquest in the 12th to 17th centuries as well as the quotidian of government documents revealing contemporary illegalities, including practices resulting in the unlawful deportation of US citizens from the United States. Professor Stevens' work has appeared in Political Theory, the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Political Philosophy, Social Text, Third World Quarterly, and many other scholarly venues, as well as in The Nation and the New York Times.|
|Dvora Yanow, Guest Professor in Wageningen University's Communication, Philosophy, and Technology Sub-Department and Professor of Organizational Studies, Keele University, is a policy/political and organizational ethnographer and interpretive methodologist whose research and teaching are shaped by an overall interest in questions of the generation and communication of knowing and meaning in organizational and policy settings. Present research topics include state-created categories for race-ethnic identity, immigrant integration policies and citizen-making practices, research regulation (ethics board) policies, practice studies, science/technology museums and the idea of science, and built space/place analysis. Her most recent book, Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (Routledge, 2012), with Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, is the first volume in their co-edited Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods; and the second edition of their co-edited Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn is now out (ME Sharpe, 2013). She and Schwartz-Shea have been working together on IRB policies and practices since 2006.|
IRB and me: An autoethnography of bureaucratic socialization
Lee Ann Fujii
Department of Political Science, University of Toronto
Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Fellow 2013-2014
Panel 3 4:00 pm-5:30 pm
What do IRBs teach us? Do they teach us to think about the ethics of research practices with "human subjects" or how to adapt to bureaucratic norms and concerns? This chapter examines the convergence and divergence between IRB norms, rules, and socialization practices and actual field research conditions and practices. I use myself as the subject of this analysis. I trace my own experience going through the IRB approval process at two different North American research universities, one in the US and the other in Canada, first as a graduate student, then as a full-time professor. The chapter also draws from the author's experiences conducting field research in three countries: Bosnia, Rwanda, and the US. This research involves talking to a wide variety of people (young and old, men and women, prisoners and recently imprisoned) about violence they lived through, survived, witnessed, or, in some cases, perpetrated. The chapter focuses on what the process of obtaining and maintaining IRB approval entails and the extent to which that process socializes researchers to think about ethics or about rules concerning ethics. The chapter argues that from the very start, IRB processes socialize researchers to adopt the norms, rules and vocabulary of the IRBs by emphasizing compliance over reflection about the actual ethical implications of their research. This singular focus on compliance then leads researchers, paradoxically, to hide much of the realities of their field experiences and practices from the IRB in order to maintain approval status.
Policy meets practice: Qualitative political science fieldwork and the IRB process
Department of Political Science, John Jay College/CUNY
Panel 3 4:00 pm-5:30 pm
In theory, institutional review boards (IRB) and their related government policies ensure that university researchers conduct their work ethically, without harm to research participants. However, the bureaucratic processes associated with securing IRB approval—including documentation requirements and review procedures—are often time-consuming and idiosyncratic, particularly for social science researchers whose projects may not conform to the experimental orientation of many IRB policies and procedures. What impact, then, does this apparent disconnect (between IRB goals and procedures) have on social science researchers' practices and ethical considerations, especially when they conduct field research that involves ongoing and multi-situational engagements with research participants (as opposed to more closed-ended interactions that characterize experimental research)? To explore this question, I draw from my experience conducting multi-method qualitative political science research in the United States with sex workers and local government officials. I illustrate how--when the IRB process is prone to delays, errors, and arbitrary practices—it impedes successful research instead of creating a moment for ethical reflection.
In this talk, I draw on nearly six months of undercover fieldwork on the kill floor of an industrialized slaughterhouse in Omaha, Nebraska to explore two competing ethics that can sometimes confront researchers conducting fieldwork in hierarchical settings characterized by large power disparities. The first, which I term the ethics of concealment, prioritizes full disclosure and informed consent. The second, which I term the ethics of power, prioritizes the positionality of the researcher within unequal networks of power. I offer an account of how I negotiated these competing ethics before, during, and after my fieldwork and conclude with some suggestions for how IRBs might better accommodate and enable fieldwork projects that seek to understand, critique, and challenge structures of domination.
Scholar, journalist, citizen: What would Socrates do?
Director, Deportation Research Clinic, Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies
Panel 4 9:00-10:30
IRBs and government public affairs offices rely on taxonomies for providing access to information that depend largely on professional employment, specifically those that distinguish the research scholar from the journalist, and also the journalist from the freelance writer or blogger. My paper will characterize the policies that depend on and produce these distinctions; explain their implications for the tension between government transparency and individual privacy; and compare current practices with alternative criteria grounded on a Socratic understanding of the relationship between knowledge and citizenship.
For further information, contact Peregrine Schwartz-Shea firstname.lastname@example.org