Dissing the IRB

20 June 2007 at 8:26 am 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

Most academic social-science researchers would rather calculate regression coefficients by hand than deal with their university’s Institutional Review Board. IRBs were created to protect human subjects in biomedical research (by requiring informed consent, for instance) but are now empowered to supervise research in the social sciences and humanities, all of which is classified as “human subjects” research. (An IRB official once told me I had to get IRB permission — by filling out numerous forms — before using accounting data from Compustat on publicly traded companies. These companies are staffed by human beings, after all.)

IRB skeptics may enjoy Todd Zywicki’s paper “Institutional Review Boards as Academic Bureaucracies: An Economic and Experiential Analysis,” which places the blame not on IRB personnel, but on the bureaucratic structure of the boards themselves. And don’t miss Zachary Schrag’s IRB blog.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Institutions.

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