Published Date

November 1, 2003

From Questions Regarding the Policy Statement on Institutional Review Boards (2003)


Begley, Sharon. “Review Boards Pose Threat to Tough Work by Social Scientists.” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2002, B1.

Bliss, Alan. “Oral History Research.” In Institutional Review Board Management and Function, edited by Robert J. Amdur, M.D. and Elizabeth A. Bankert. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2002.

Brainard, Jeffrey. “The Wrong Rules for Social Science?” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 9, 2001, A21. Available at for those with a subscription to the Chronicle

Church, Jonathan T., Linda Shopes, and Margaret A. Blanchard, “Should All Disciplines Be Subject to the Common Rule?” Academe 88:3 (May-June 2002), 62-69.
The authors’ January 2002 statements before the National Human Research Protections Advisory Commission, raising questions about the appropriateness of IRB review of research in anthropology, history, and journalism.

COSSA Washington Update
newsletter of the Consortium of Social Science Associations; provides excellent regular coverage of current federal issues/debates/actions related to human subjects review; searchable online.

Division of Contracts, Policy, and Oversight, National Science Foundation, “Frequently Asked Questions and Vignettes: Interpreting the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects Behavioral and Social Science Research,” available at
A useful website for understanding and interpreting the Common Rule as it applies to nonbiomedical research.

Gordon, Michael, “Historians and Review Boards,” Perspectives, 35:6 (September 1997), 35-37. Includes a sample description of an oral history project that can be submitted to an IRB for review.

Gunsalus, C. K., “Rethinking Protections for Human Subjects, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 15, 2002, B24.

Human Subject Protection Regulations and Research Outside the Biomedical Sphere, a working conference sponsored by the College of Law, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, April 11-12, 2003.
Position papers on a variety of topics related to research, harm, risk, and human subjects as they relate to IRB review in nonbiomedical fields; papers generally take a broadly critical view.

Kancelbaum, Barbara, “Social Scientists and Institutional Review Boards,” Items &amp Issues [newsletter of the Social Science Research Council] 3: 1-2 (Spring 2002), 1ff.

National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research.
Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research. 
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979.
The landmark federal report that defined the fundamental ethical principles to govern research on human subjects.

Nelson, Cary, “Can E.T. Phone Home? The Brave New World of University Surveillance,” Academe 89:5 (September-October 2003).

Oakes, J. Michael. 2002. “Risks and Wrongs in Social Science Research: An Evaluator’s Guide to the IRB.” Evaluation Review 24 (2002): 443-478.

Oral History Evaluation Guidelines, rev. ed. Carlisle, Pa.: Oral History Association, 2000.
The professional standards for oral history, developed by the Oral History Association.

“Protecting Human Beings: Institutional Review Boards and Social Science Research,” Academe, 87:3 (May-June 2001), 55-67.
A thorough discussion of the difficulties social scientists – including historians – encounter as regulations developed within a biomedical frame of reference are applied to nonbiomedical research; useful as a reference in discussions with local IRBs.

Sieber, John E., Stuart Platter, and Philip Rubin, “How (Not) to Regulate Social Behavioral Research,” Professional Ethics Report, XV:2 (Spring 2002), 1-3.

Shea, Christopher, “Don’t Talk to the Humans: The Crackdown on Social Science Research,”
Lingua franca,
 10:6 (September 2000).

Shopes, Linda, “Institutional Review Boards Have a Chilling Effect on Oral History,” AHA Perspectives, 38:6 (September 2000), 34-37.

———-, “Historians and human-subjects research, recent science newsletter, 2:3 (Spring 2001), 6ff.

Speers, Marjorie A., “Accreditation Helps Researchers and Subjects Alike,” APS [American Psychological Society] Observer 16:5 (May 2003), 9.

Title 45 (Public Welfare) Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects).
These are the federal regulations governing research on human subjects, available at the website of the Office of Human Research Protections/US Department of Health &amp Human Services, which has responsibility for implementing them. OHRP’s website includes considerable additional information related to the regulations, their implications, and implementation.

Vagts, Rachel, “Clashing Disciplines: Oral History and the Institutional Review Board,” Archival Issues 26:2 (2002), 145-152.

Van den Hoonaard, Will C., “Is Research Ethics Review a Moral Panic?” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 38:1 (2001), 19-36.
Canadian colleagues’ reflections on the issues of human subjects review in qualitative research.