Thing-a-day #6: A plan for dealing with IRBs

A week ago on Twitter, Sara Goldrick-Rab was listing reasons why we don’t have a “greater evidence-base” in education, that is, systemic or bureaucratic challenges that face education researchers. I proposed adding one to her list:

In case you’re not familiar with it, the IRB is a committee that provides oversight of human subjects research to be sure we’re protecting participants’ confidentiality, not exposing them to undue risk, or otherwise doing anything unethical. It’s important for such things to exist, but in practice it takes a fair amount of effort to write up an IRB submission and you can wait for months to get approval to begin research. And in my case, not only does my institution have an IRB, but the school systems where I will be conducting fieldwork also have their own IRBs, so I need to get approval from all of them.

Well, I have preliminary approval from Georgetown — there’s just one small modification I’m going to have to make. And my thing for today is, I downloaded forms and double-checked submission deadlines for two school districts where I’ve made contacts. Now I just need to write them up and submit. Here’s hoping …

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