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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsLong-Sought Research Deregulation Is Upon Us. Don’t Squander the Moment – The Chronicle of Higher Education (Richard A. Shweder and Richard E. Nisbett | March 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Long-Sought Research Deregulation Is Upon Us. Don’t Squander the Moment – The Chronicle of Higher Education (Richard A. Shweder and Richard E. Nisbett | March 2017)

 


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We can’t help but feel that the revision of the US Common Rule was a missed opportunity to reflect on how institutions should replace IRB control through review with an approach that aims at building reflective ethical practice. Given past patterns of exporting US regulatory approaches to other parts of the world, many more jurisdictions may come to regret this.

It has been a 40-year labor: Regulatory systems are not easy to undo. Nevertheless, in January the federal government opened the door for universities to deregulate vast portions of research in the social sciences, law, and the humanities. This long-sought and welcome reform of the regulations requiring administrative oversight of federally funded human-subject research on college campuses limits the scope of institutional review board, or IRB, management by exempting low-risk research with human subjects from the board’s review.
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The new regulations state: “We acknowledge that guidance may be useful for interpreting some of the terms in this exemption, and that some cases will be debatable. However, we also believe that a substantial number of research activities will plainly fit this exemption, and should be allowed to proceed without IRB review.”
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The exempted research activities include surveys, interviews, and other forms of free communication between researchers and human adults, aptitude testing, the observation and recording of verbal and nonverbal behavior in schools and public places (for example, courtrooms), benign behavioral interventions (including ordinary psychology experiments), secondary-data analysis, and other low-risk projects and research procedures.
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