Search Results for ‘"institutional review board"’

“Great news: someone is reining in the IRB”

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), which oversee the ethics of human subjects research, have long come under criticism for applying to social science inquiry a range of restrictive oversight practices better suited to medical experimentation [Zachary Schrag on a 2017 effort to prune back the rules] Now Omri Ben-Shahar at Regulatory Review reports on an experiment at the University of Chicago:

It is widely recognized that IRBs have exercised “mission creep,” continuously expanding the de facto scope of their oversight. Some might describe this trajectory charitably as the advance of ethical norms, but the cost of IRB expansion is undeniable: more burden on researchers, slowdown of research, fewer studies, and inevitably less progress.

Can this burden be reduced without increasing risks to subjects? The University of Chicago is about to launch a pilot reform to test this question. The reform will address the great majority of social science experiments that are classified as minimum risk—by my own count well over 95 percent of the protocols received by the social science IRBs are treated as either “exempt” or “expedited.”

The reform is propelled by a simple premise: Instead of applying for IRB approval, researchers would self-determine that their studies are low-risk and launch them without IRB review.

This reform is entirely in line with the law.

More from Adam Chilton (including headline above). Related, Australia [Paul Oslington, Quillette]

A tale of research permission

“Scott Alexander” recounts with much humor an episode in which, observing an apparent weakness in the way patients are screened for bipolar disorder, he suggested that the effectiveness of the screen be put to a study as his hospital. That meant human subjects research, which meant submitting the idea to an institutional review board, which meant a sustained encounter with the federally prescribed regulatory apparatus that empowers IRBs. [Slate Star Codex] Our earlier coverage of IRBs is here, and Philip Hamburger has a much more formal and sustained critique, with footnotes, in this 2007 Northwestern University Law Review paper (“they require the licensing of speech and the press [when directed toward] the pursuit of scientific knowledge.”) See also Zachary Schrag, “You Can’t Ask That,” Washington Monthly, 2014 and, on the recent changes in regulation, Kate Murphy/New York Times and Richard A. Shweder and Richard E. Nisbett, Chronicle of Higher Education.

Higher education roundup

  • “If this becomes the new normal… the intellectual thugs will take over many campuses….A minority of faculty are cowing a majority in the same way that a minority of students are cowing the majority.” Why Charles Murray is pessimistic following the Middlebury attack [AEI] Frank Bruni on the Middlebury events and “the dangerous safety of college” [New York Times]
  • “Faculty and students need to be free to express ideas and viewpoints rather than be penalized for their politics.” [letter from group of Wellesley alumnae]
  • Finally! Federal government in January opened door for universities to relax some of their IRB (institutional review board) scrutiny of human-subjects research in low-risk areas not involving medical intervention [Richard Shweder and Richard Nisbett, Chronicle of Higher Education, related Institutional Review Blog] Update: some annotations/corrections from Michelle Meyer;
  • “Colorado student expelled for raping his girlfriend, even though both he and his girlfriend both deny the charge.” [Robby Soave/Reason on CSU-Pueblo case, via (and described by) Radley Balko] “End federal micromanagement of college discipline under Title IX” [Hans Bader/CEI, and related] “Maybe I’m drunk, but this doesn’t seem fair” [The Safest Space on “both were drunk, he got charged” poster]
  • What, no taxpayer dollars to pursue favored legal causes? North Carolina proposal would bar public universities from representing lawsuit clients [Caron/TaxProf]
  • I hadn’t followed the “New Civics” movement. It sounds pretty bad [George Leef, Martin Center]

Higher education roundup

  • Student claims public college required him to mouth correct views regarding social justice as part of class. Not since Barnette v. West Virginia you don’t [Ilya Shapiro and Devin Watkins on Cato amicus brief in Felkner v. Rhode Island College (“The First Amendment prohibits government actors from compelling private citizens to express views with which they disagree.”)]
  • In the mail: KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr.’s “The Campus Rape Panic: The Attack on Due Process at American Universities” [Encounter Books; review, Robert VerBruggen; plus excerpt; interview with Taylor] “The Title IX Mess: Will It Be Reformed?” [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus]
  • Departing Obama administration revises Common Rule on IRB/institutional review board human subjects protection [NEJM, Verrill Dana redline via Michelle Meyer, Zachary Schrag first, second, third posts on implications for social science research]
  • Notwithstanding early reports, PEN America report on campus expression mounts “unflinching defense of free speech” [Anthony Fisher, Vox; related, José Cabranes/Washington Post and Orin Kerr]
  • U.K.: graduate sues Oxford for negligent teaching, wants £1 million [Lowering the Bar, more links at Paul Caron/TaxProf]
  • When should you report classmates to the Syracuse University administration? Suspect behavior includes “avoiding or excluding others,” “telling jokes based on a stereotype,” “posting or commenting on social media related to someone’s identity in a bias matter,” “imitating someone’s cultural norm or practice” [guidelines (from mission statement: “never privatize any wrongful act, no matter how small”) via Robby Soave]

Higher education roundup

  • Colleagues demand Oregon law prof resign over Hallowe’en costume [Paul Caron/TaxProf; Eugene Volokh (“We have reached a bad and dangerous place in American life, and in American university life in particular.”)] Title IX and expression: “What the feds have done to colleges and schools” [Hans Bader, Minding the Campus]
  • Institutional review boards (IRBs) “as a rule are incredibly difficult to study…. There is no public record of their decision or deliberations, they don’t, as a rule, invite scrutiny or allow themselves to be observed.” [Dr. Steven Joffe quoted by Tyler Cowen]
  • “An emphasis on intersectionality”: mandatory diversity course for first-years at AU now has course description [earlier] “U-M’s New ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ Will Collect $385,000 per Year” [Derek Draplin, Michigan Capitol Confidential]
  • “Plaintiffs’ Bar Steps Up Profitable False Claims Act Assault on Higher Education” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
  • Notwithstanding initial wave of critical coverage, Will Creeley says PEN report on campus speech is actually pretty good [FIRE] “Student group at Cal State Northridge boasts of ‘shutting down’ speech by award-winning scholar” [Volokh; Armenian students vs. Ataturk lecture]
  • On question whether universities must treat student athletes as employees, NLRB “may be battling for field position” with future ruling in mind [Brennan Bolt, McGuire Woods]

February 10 roundup

  • Feds arrest almost the entire elected leadership of Crystal City, Texas, population 7,000, in corruption probe [New York Daily News] In 2005 we noted, emerging from that little town where everyone seemed to know everyone else, a highly curious $31 million verdict against Ford Motor;
  • Crane collapse chasing in NYC: Eric Turkewitz shines a spotlight on the ethical debris;
  • “The Eight Weirdest People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Sued” [Daily Caller slideshow, I get a mention]
  • A trademark tale: departing Yosemite concessionaire can take historic place names when it goes [David Post, Coyote with a somewhat different view]
  • “Legal action against soldiers ‘could undermine Britain on the battlefield’ warns chief of general staff” [Con Coughlin, Telegraph]
  • Human subjects research/Institutional Review Boards: “The Obama administration is quietly trying to make it harder to study public officials” [Michelle Hackman, Vox]
  • Comedians, start your engines: lawyer who sued over intimate male enhancement promotion now sues over dating service promotion [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute]

Schools roundup

School and college roundup

  • Far-reaching, legally dubious new mandate: 37-page “Dear Colleague” letter from Washington launches new “education equity initiative” directing local schools to ensure all children “equal access to educational resources” [R. Shep Melnick, Education Next and WSJ]
  • “‘Tag is not banned,’ [the school district] insisted.” [Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Lenore Skenazy; Mercer Island, Wash.]
  • University of Texas now blurs racial preferences into “holistic” admission review, Supreme Court should take look [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Feds vs. due process: Michigan State case goes well beyond itself-notorious OCR Dear Colleague letter [KC Johnson; related Hans Bader on Tufts and other cases] Emily Yoffe: not so fast on latest “one in five” study [Slate; more, Stuart Taylor Jr.] “You cannot build justice for women on injustice for men.” [powerful Wendy McElroy speech debating Jessica Valenti]
  • Trashing copies of a student paper to keep content from being read? 171 Wesleyan students/alums: “Go for it!” [Popehat, Scott Greenfield] “Editorial independence remains a huge priority for us” says the Wesleyan Argus editor. Doesn’t sound as if her adversaries see it that way [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Robert Klitzman: Institutional Review Boards at research institutions could benefit from transparency and respect for precedent [via Zachary Schrag]
  • Donald Trump’s battle with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over proprietary “Trump University” [Emma Brown, Washington Post]

Higher education roundup

Back to school roundup

  • Pending California bill would impose “affirmative consent” requirement on sex between students at colleges that receive state funding [Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Dish] “New Startup Connects Students With a Lawyer the Minute They Get In Trouble” [The College Fix] Yale vs. wrongly accused males [KC Johnson/Minding the Campus, related on due process] Provision in proposed “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” (CASA) would incentivize fining colleges by letting Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights keep the proceeds [Hans Bader; more on CASA] Idea that campuses are gripped by “rape culture” having wide-ranging effects, even off campus [Bader, Examiner]
  • Not only that, but the body was missing: “HS student says he was arrested for killing dinosaur in class assignment” [Summerville, S.C.; WCSC]
  • Is Mayor de Blasio really willing to sacrifice NYC select schools like Bronx Science and Stuyvesant in the name of equality? [Dennis Saffran, City Journal]
  • Administration trying to hold for-profit colleges to standard few public colleges could meet [WaPo editorial]
  • Progress of a sort: UC San Diego “has determined that most projects by historians and journalists need not be submitted to the IRB [institutional review board].” [Zachary Schrag; related speech]
  • “At Appomattox County [Va.] High School, the staff spent the summer changing its block-letter ‘A’ logo on everything from sticky notes to uniforms after the licensing agency representing the University of Arizona sent the school a cease-and-desist letter claiming potential confusion among consumers.” [Washington Post Magazine]
  • “Fifth Circuit Disobeyed Supreme Court in Allowing Racial Preferences at UT-Austin” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
  • Note that the pile-up of parking signs at a Culver City school is still “towering and confusing” even in the “after” photo following response to complaints [L.A. Times via Virginia Postrel]