US human subjects rules might get much easier for CS Ed

August 8, 2011 at 5:59 am 2 comments

Currently, US human subjects research rules are onerous for those of us doing education research.  We take no biological specimens, we use no pain or probes or drugs, but we have to go through the same lengthy forms as a medical researcher.  Under these new rules, 90% of our research (which is based on just surveys and interviews) would be exempt.  WOO HOO!

The proposal would also exempt from board review research that involves surveys and interviews that poses little or no risk to people — a change expected to be especially welcomed by social scientists. The revisions intend to make the consent forms that lay out a study’s risks and possible benefits clearer, shorter and more standardized.

via U.S. proposes rule changes for human-subject research – The Washington Post.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. BKM  |  August 8, 2011 at 8:17 am

    But will we still have to go through the IRB to be certified as exempt? That is my problem now. All of the CS education research I have done so far is already exempt under current rules – but my university requires a full IRB application so they can then determine that my research is exempt. My university does a lot of biological and pharmaceutical research, so our IRB is very hard-nosed

    • 2. Anon  |  August 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Odd, I’ve had actually a very easy time at a university that does mainly bio/medical research getting CS stuff through, compared to when I was at Georgia Tech, whose IRB is used to HCI applications, and therefore seems to spend more time scrutinizing them (sometimes micromanaging).

      The bio/med-heavy university’s IRB was almost incredulous when I sent them a form asking permission to have someone use a piece of software and fill out a survey. The reaction was sort of: “Seriously, you’re asking us to have someone use software and fill out a survey? Yes, exempt, obviously. Do you realize what kinds of research we usually get applications for? Does your survey form somehow stick people with needles? No? Well, then stop wasting our time.”


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