Overseeing research: Ethics and the Institutional Review Board

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this paper I examine my experience of submitting a research proposal to the Institutional Review Board of a university. In the United States of America Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are federally mandated ethics committees that evaluate research proposals to ensure the rights of human subjects are protected by conducting a risk benefit analysis of proposed research, ensuring that informed consent and confidentiality protocols are applied appropriately, and that the selection of participants is just and equitable. While accepting the need for IRBs, I suggest that their documentation and practices privilege specific research practices. This paper seeks to highlight the emerging consistencies and contradictions of this documentation when applied to a research approach seeking to study an urban science classroom and argues that there needs to be an ongoing dialogue to examine and acknowledge these contradictions in their documentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalForum Qualitative Sozialforschung
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Ethics
  • Informed consent
  • Power
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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