SeriousSillyPutty Posted May 15, 2013 Share Posted May 15, 2013 The short version: Anyone have tips for know good examples of IRBs for "participant observer" research? Extended version: I have an internship this summer with the education/outreach department of a big physics lab (woohoo!). They give a smalls subsistence allowance, but not enough to actually pay for travel/housing, so I asked my department how I would go about getting summer funding from the University, like students do when they stick around for the summer. (This is a PhD program, but people aren't in research groups, and do all sorts of odd things while taking classes.) The department head helped me out and said that I needed to present the internship as research with me as a "participant observer", which would involve writing down everything I did and observed. It seemed like as stretch to me, but he suggested it, and he knows his business. He said I would just have to fill out an IRB. I had never heard of an IRB, but looked it up and surmised that it was paperwork to ensure I wasn't doing sadistic psychological experiments on people. I applied for summer funding, received some, but got bogged down in coursework -- not to mention visa applications and travel arrangements for this internship -- and didn't get to the IRB until the semester ended a week ago. On our IRB system website, it looks like there are three pages: One for a research summary, one for demographics, and one for listing who the researchers are. This is manageable, and I got help with the first page. Turns out that there are several more pages asking for way more detail on pages you can't see from the home screen. Again, if I knew about IRBs, this would be obvious, but this is all a whole new world to me. Most of the questions didn't seem to apply, because I wasn't collecting participants or anything, I'm just planning to do an internship! Plus, I'm applyig for exempt status (which applies to regular educational activities and public observation) so it seems that much more odd to fill out all this stuff about recruiting participants and such. This should have been submitted forever ago, so I just filled it out to the best of my abilities. One thing required a department head signature, so I emailed him asking for it. Big mistake. Here's what he wrote: "Who is the faculty sponsor for this project? I fear that as written it will not pass IRB. You must have clear study procedures. A methods section is essential information as well as analysis descriptions. Do you have a protocol for gaining participant approval. I can not approve this unless you have a fully articulated study plan and a faculty sponsor. Have you seen examples of IRB requests?" He's saying in the most gracious way possible that what I have is B.S. and I really shouldn't be trying to get him to sign something so obviously not ready for prime time. And it's true: I didn't have a clear protocol for gaining approval, because with exempt status I got the sense I didn't need it. I didn't have much for methods and analysis, because I didn't think there was any method and analysis beyond doing the internship and writing everything down -- because that's the sense I had gotten from him when we talked originally. So now I look lazy, I made the grad student adviser look neglectful (after she agreed to be faculty supervisor at the last minute when I learned -- from the form -- that I needed one), I took up the department chair's time on stuff I should have run by adviser first, and have generally made a mess for everyone. Oh. And I'm leaving town for over three months in 23 hours. Now I'm trying to do damage control and would appreciate any and all insights. (Unless your answer is to google my question... I figured that one out; I just thought some actually human beings might point me to the good stuff more quicky.) - I'm going for an internship, and have presented myself in this light to my future summer supervisors. What is acceptable "research" to do under these circumstances, and what kind of procedure is expected. - Do others have examples of IRB forms filled out for similar projects, that aren't primarily designed as research anyway? - It seems a lot of the IRB questions really don't apply to the day-to-day observations I'd be making. If I try to make things more formal (claim I'll be doing interviews and such) then it seems I might lose the chance of IRB exempt status, but if I don't make things more formal, how can I create a procedure? What kind of privacy protocols do I need for something that seems so public? It's extra hard because I have a very limited idea of what the internship will involve... the whole reason I'm going is to learn more about what they do there. Thanks for reading my angst! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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