October 30, 2006
My Brush with the IRB
Posted by Christine Hurt

I have never had to deal personally with the IRB research requirements, but I have heard colleagues who do empirical research complain about the hoops that one must go through to get approval for certain studies.  Last week, I signed a consent form to allow a professor from another department on campus to assess my third-grade child in the area of language development at her school.  I had to show the consent form to my empiricist colleagues just to make sure I wasn't imagining things.  I can't imagine what non-academic parents thought about some of the boilerplate in the consent.

First, the letter stresses to me in three different sentences that my child must consent to being assessed.  What if she were three?  Or four?  Then, the letter has to inform me of the "risks" and "benefits" of being part of the study.

Anticipated risks associated with this project are minimal and similar to everyday life, including the potential for boredom, frustration, or discomfort that can come with being assessed.  Anticipated benefits include one-on-one attention from an adult who enjoys interacting with children, a small prize for your child, and access to a professional who specializes in language development.

Does the IRB require the small prize?  How risky is boredom? 

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