What is Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Virginia Tech?

As a PhD student at ISE, Virginia Tech, I need to participate in different experiments as my research.

I need to collect data from humans and analyze this data. There is an Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Virginia Tech for this reason. I needed to pass an exam to show my ability for data collection of humans, then I should submit my plan for the experiment for IRB before starting data collection. The tutorial for this can be downloaded from:

http://www.irb.vt.edu/pages/tutorial_section2.htm .

This tutorial has two sections: Compliance and Ethics. I want to talk about the second section in this post. This section was written by Dr. Serge F. Hein. The title of his paper is “Threats to Ethical Decision Making during Research”. He discussed about eight threats related to decision making in the experiment.  I explain each threat briefly.

Threat #1: Inadequate Knowledge of Federal Regulations or How They Apply to Your Research

One of the obvious ethical problems in the research is a lack of understanding of federal regulations. The researchers should know these regulations and follow all of them. Some examples of these regulations are:

  • Any changes in the experiment should be reported to IRB
  • Participants can leave the experiment anytime.
  • Participants should a proper time to read consent form and sign it.
  • All data from participants should be maintain in the secure place and device.

Threat #2: Making Inadequate Use of the IRB Administrative Office

The researchers may not have a good communication to IRB office and they may not know about IRB rules adequately.  For example, the researcher may be afraid to talk to IRB about the possible threats of his/her experiment.

Threat #3: Lack of Time, High Workload, and Stress

A lack of time may cause bad effects on the researcher and he/she could not think about ethical issues. This matter happenes for PhD students who want to defend his dissertation significantly.

Threat #4: Forgetting Important Information over Time

The researchers may forgot some aspects of their project because of time-pressure etc. They may change the test protocol, but the IRB has approved another protocol.

Threat #5: Inadequate Reflection

The main idea of this threat is that the researchers should “place themselves in the participant’s shoes.”

Threat #6: Inadequate Moral Reasoning

If the researchers want to convince the participants and their team, they should use moral reasoning method to communicate with them.

Threat #7: Competing Priorities

The researchers may involve their own priorities accidently. For example, they need more data for their career in the future, so they ask the participants to perform more task beyond IRB approval.

Threat #8: Problems Associated with Team-Based Research

The lack of proper communication between team members may cause the ethical problems.

In conclusion, the ethical issues are very important in my research fields, because we want to collect data from humans and we need to be prepared adequately.

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