Reflections on Locke, Silverman, and Spirduso’s Reading and Understanding Research and the Institutional Review Board

The research process is something that feels very familiar to me. While I am always learning, always searching and seeking, and perpetually digging deeper, not for passages to prove q point, though that is not unfamiliar to me, but to learn, always to learn more. Locke, Silverman, and Spirduso (2010), introduce the idea of researching for a specific purpose, though it seems I have been seeking out information and researching since I was a little.  Researching is a very familiar place.  In some ways, it feels like home, whether it has been within academic primary sources over the last several years or even secondary and general sources for much longer.  Locke, et al go on to indicate that information that look for as academics may be somewhat buried as incidental information within studies that is more observations of the participants regarding particular behavior, or even as secondary sources or study questions.  Again, this kind of research feels very familiar to me, though I obviously need to hone those skills to a sharp point to be affective and effective here at Saybrook and later when I move on to dissertation research and teaching.

I appreciate the fact that we are not only studying psychology research to prepare ourselves for our eventual individual or collaborative studies but that we are diving headlong in to critical elements of it, including the Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements.  I was required to obtain some certifications from my previous university’s IRB a few years ago for a class {and a professor) where we were studying and working with a group of local participants/co-researchers using a form of Asset-Based Community Development methods.  Consequently, some of the source materials here are familiar and other elements are new.

While I was aware of the atrocities of the doctors who performed the Nazi Medical War Crimes and the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee (Though I certainly did not know that it lasted nearly as long as it did.), but there were several others that I was not aware of, including the 1963 Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Study and the 1963-1966 Willowbrook Study.  While a crisis in ethics seemed to arise at the awareness of each of these atrocities (with an immediate addition of a set of rules), to a certain extent a dismissal or lack of moral empathy for the subjects seems to have been present and vitally important to conducting any study that would affect and effect any group however large or small.  We all can speculate why this was the case in these studies, who controlled the studies, who the subjects were and the makeup of the political majority.

Obviously the so-called doctors above neither adhered to their principles in the Hippocratic Oath nor to any concept of informed concept of informed consent.  In retrospect, they treated their subjects as objects, as animals, which is a disturbing thought.  Had they informed their subjects of their intent, fully disclosing every aspect of their “studies,” and if the human race at its worst were more human, perhaps there would be less need for a Board to monitor the lapses in moral judgement where one group of people decide to study another group of individuals under the microscopes that were employed above.

As a result,  rules and regulations are necessary and the role of the IRB becomes one that monitors us as researchers to see that we don’t let our curiosity overrule our moral judgement with a set of rules that allow researcher and study subjects in each study to be aware of the risks involved, protect vulnerable populations (including pregnant women, children, and the incarcerated), and those rare occasions where research involving humans is exempt from regulatory requirements, though not from the IRB.

Reading from the materials provided by the IRB and Locke et al, gives me some perspective into what I’ll need in the future for my very own research, though I have much work and study prior to that.  But given that I am very interested in Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), I am very interested in working with and within groups of participants/co-researchers, and constructing a study that elevates and assists a population in evolving into [their idea of] a better community will be vital, and information I learned here will be vital.

Sources:

Locke, Lawrence F., Stephen J. Silverman, and Waneen Wyrick Spirduso. Reading and Understanding Research.

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