ell at bumail.bradley.edu
Sun Aug 12 11:58:31 PDT 2007
"And those are my last words on the subject, I for one am signing out
of this "discussion" due to what I see as intransigence by the
protagonist who clearly has an agenda."
I think that maybe you misunderstand my intention and motivation.
Perhaps not. But I'll try to explain.
I don't really have some sort of hidden agenda here. My concern is
that there are faculty, researchers, and students who may well be
exposing human subjects to undue risks, without the IRB at their
place reviewing their plans. If folks take the position that
virtually everything available on the inter-web thingie is a public
document, open to research without any application to an IRB, then no
one is looking out for human subjects. My good friend Jeremy has even
taken the position that the people that produce these texts aren't
even subjects. I'm sorry, but I just don't agree.
Granted, people who post (many of whom are minors) do subject
themselves to the dangers of making their private information widely
available to others. But to just say that it's all out there so there
aren't any rules, is, in my view, drastically wrong. I believe that
some of the rules DO apply. And even if they don't I think that we
should follow ethical guidelines that are MORE concerned about
protecting human subjects than we are about furthering our own
Two other points. This list serves a lot of people like you . . .
graduate students looking for direction. In fact, this thread was
started by a grad student asking for advice/direction. What's a
faculty member to do? Ignore possible issues and just say "OK KID, GO
FOR IT!" even when and if they think there are issues to be
discussed? We were asked our opinion about these considerations. Both
sides of the issue have been represented and discussed. I think
That's why stuff like this is often called a "contested issue." Just
because one side says that it's a done deal, doesn't always make it
so (not even my side). That's why I shared the U of Ill. procedure
document. That wasn't my argument (though I used it) . . . those are
procedures used by a fairly enlightened IRB. I think those procedures
would apply to a lot of the web-netted research that's been discussed
here. Other folks don't think so. Ok.
Second, some of us are the same faculty who will go into our classes
and preach hour after hour to our students about the public loss of
privacy in America . . all the time cautioning our students (let
alone our children) about the dangers of over-exposing private
information. Or at least, I should say, I do.
Then are we the very same faculty that turn around and grab whatever
we can find from that netted-web without regard for protecting the
very humans who produced the texts we want to study? That doesn't
strike me as right, somehow.
I'm sorry if I sound intransigent. I'm really not. I've often made
applications to IRBs with all sorts of efforts to finesse various
strictures, for various reasons. But I know, for example, that when
Linden Lab took down their TOS restrictions to and procedures for
research in Second Life, they explicitly offered the idea that they
expected that the oversight provided to researchers by their local
IRB would suffice. But for that to happen, applications to do the
work, to get the exemption, must be filed. If the faculty member
says, instead, "Oh, I know this is ok," then no oversight occurs.
I honestly DO NOT have an axe to grind over this. I DO happen to
think that open discussion of issues such as these are important. I
also think that the internet is a fuzzy enough business that the
answers are not fixed or obvious or universal. I am sorry if I
seemed stubborn. I too, will quit now as I've made the key points I
want to make and repeating them just wastes valuable bits and bandwidth.
Edward Lee Lamoureux,
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