LINGUIST List 2.767

Thu 07 Nov 1991

Disc: Human Research

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. Terry Langendoen, Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
  2. Natalie Maynor, Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
  3. "Joyce Neu, Penn State University", Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
  4. "Michael Kac", Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
  5. BROADWELL GEORGE AARON, review boards
  6. , Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
  7. Prof. Roly Sussex, Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Message 1: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Date: Wed, 06 Nov 91 16:08:23 MST
From: Terry Langendoen <LANGENDTARIZVM1.CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
On Wed, 6 Nov 1991 16:49:17 -0600 Geoff Nathan posted the following:
>I would like to open a new thread for discussion. Faculty
>and students here in Linguistics at SIU are being hassled
>(at least that's our perception of it) by the Human
>Subjects Committee. To what extent have people on this
>net been asked to clear their research through such a committee?
>What I have in mind is ordinary linguistic and ESL research--
>such things as getting grammaticality judgments from an
>entire classroom of people, tape recording subjects speaking
>a variety of languages, asking ESL or FL composition classes
>to write on specific topics, or after seeing some video or
>other `treatment'. Specifically, does such work have to
>be cleared by a university-wide human subjects committee?
>What if the research is for a class term paper? What about
>for an MA thesis topic? Is there a radical difference made
>if tape recording is used, even if this only involves reading
>lists of words? We have just been threatened with being
>reported to the Feds if we don't clear *all* research, no
>matter how informal, non-invasive, anonymous... as long
>as it involves collecting data. Is this normal procedure
>and we are just behind the times, or are other linguists and
>ES/FL (or other XFL) researchers having to clear all classroom
>and office-based research with the University-wide committee.
>I would appreciate personal answers if you don't think this
>needs net-wide discussion, but I rather suspect it might need
>to be aired more widely.
>Thanks,
> Geoff Nathan <ga3662siucvmb>
> for the Department of Linguistics, SIUC
The Human Subjects Committee at the University of Arizona, routinely
exempts the kind of research Geoff describes from
university review. However, it does hold the Department responsible
for insuring that its research involving human subjects does
conform to federal law. For thesis and dissertation research, the
Department Head certifies to the Graduate College that the research
does not require review by the university Human Subjects Committee.
In filing a federal grant application (e.g. an NSF grant), we check
the box (which appears on a university cover sheet)
labeled "Human Subjects", send a brief description of the
research to the university committee, and then get back a signed form
stating that the research is exempt from university review (citing
a specific statute, which I don't have at hand at the moment), and
that it is up to the department whether it requires the researcher
to obtain a signed consent form from the subjects. So far, the
department has never imposed this requirement. The issue of review
of classroom "experiments" of the type Geoff described has, thankfully,
never been raised here.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Date: Wed, 6 Nov 91 17:39:43 CST
From: Natalie Maynor <nm1Ra.MsState.Edu>
Subject: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
> or are other linguists and
> ES/FL (or other XFL) researchers having to clear all classroom
> and office-based research with the University-wide committee.
Yes. We have to clear *all* research that involves human beings with
the Committee for Doing Research on Human Subjects. Several of my
students have abandoned good paper ideas because of the hassle. Having
gone through the process for my own research, I must say that I don't
blame them for giving up.
Natalie Maynor (nm1ra.msstate.edu)
English Department, Mississippi State University
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Date: Wed, 6 Nov 91 20:21 EST
From: "Joyce Neu, Penn State University" <JN0PSUVM.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
In response to Geoff Nathan's request for information about
human research controls: here at Penn State, we have an
Office of Compliance in the Graduate School that screens
all research studies. All of my MA and Ph.D. students
must complete pages of forms before beginning their research
and must have an informed consent form approved to present
to potential subjects (each subject gets one to keep and
returns a signed one to the researcher. The signed ones then
get sent, in a specially sealed envelope, to be put on file
in the Compliance Office. It protects you and the university
from lawsuits.). I have done this many times now, and because
all of my graduate level seminar students do empirical
studies for my courses, they all must go through this process.
 In fact, I have even had to clear my undergraduate class
projects through the Compliance office. The only data
collection that doesn't have to be cleared is when you are
doing observations of people anonymously (e.g., observing
people walking down the street, observing anything that
people would be doing whether or not you, as researcher,
were there). This would _not_ include observing in a classroom
situation since you would be required to receive the consent
of the instructor.
 I am amazed that you do not have subjects sign informed consent
forms for your research. I am a very strong believer in ethical
research methods because I think that much research would be
improved were researchers called upon to provide rationales
and methodologies _before_ they start collecting the data. It also
provides students (undergrads and grads) with a good model
for how research should be done, but you can't ask them to
do this if you don't.
 It's a pain at times, certainly, but I'm grateful for our
picky Compliance Office and had thought that this was by now
the rule in academia rather than the exception. Isn't it?
Joyce Neu
Center for ESL
Penn State University
jn0psuvm.psu.edu
jn0psuvm.bitnet
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Date: Wed, 6 Nov 91 19:44:18 -0600
From: "Michael Kac" <kaccs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
I can't give a comprehensive answer to Geoff Nathan's query regarding
clearing linguistic research with committees on the use of human subjects,
but when I sought such clearance some years ago for some work that would
have involved use of informants (never carried out, as it happens), the
committee issued a blanket exemption of that kind of work from its scrutiny.
I forget the precise details (this all happened over ten years ago) but
the essence of the decision was that people who are simply providing you
with information about their native language don't count as experimental
subjects.
Michael Kac
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: review boards

Date: Thu, 7 Nov 91 11:06:41 -0500
From: BROADWELL GEORGE AARON <gb661csc.albany.edu>
Subject: review boards
I have also encountered some difficulty with the Human Subjects Board,
who wanted me to have speakers sign consent forms before working with me.
I refused to comply, on the grounds that this would be detrimental to
my research. I was working with Zapotec speakers in rural Mexico who
were already a bit suspicious of outsiders, and the idea of asking them
to sign some document in a foreign language was ridiculous. I also
considered translating a consent form into Spanish, but even then their
ability to read and understand the sort of bureaucratic ass-covering
that the university wanted was limited.
So far I've gotten away with this, but I am afraid that eventually
they'll catch up with me.
I'd welcome any ideas on how to deal with this situation.
 *********************************************************
Aaron Broadwell, Dept. of Linguistics, University at Albany -- SUNY,
Albany, NY 12222 gb661leah.albany.edu
 ---------------------------------------------------------
"Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific
laws." -- Oscar Wilde
 **********************************************************
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 6: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Date: Wed, 6 Nov 91 22:40 CST
From: <ASHELDONvx.acs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
The University of Minnesota human subject research policy, as of a while
ago, had an exemption for research that was done by students for class
papers. They also have a category of research, such as getting grammaticality
judgments and such, which can get an expedited approval, i.e. the whole
human Subjects Research Committee doesn't have to meet to approve it, but
a representative of the Committee can review it and get back to the author
in a matter of a few days, usually approving this sort of research. That
takes some of the sting out of it.
Amy Sheldon
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 7: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research

Date: Thu, 7 Nov 1991 16:14:19 +1100
From: Prof. Roly Sussex <sussexlingua.cltr.uq.oz.au>
Subject: Re: 2.763 Query: Human Research
Geoff Nathan enquires about human experimentation and research
permissions. In Australia there is wide variation in institutions,
but in general, if you can certify that
	a) there is no risk above that in everyday life
	b) the anonymity of the informants is preserved
	c) the informants are volunteers
then no permission is required by at least some institutions.
Classes of students acting as informants for each other, or projects
collecting data on student performance in essay writing (etc.)
will usually meet these exemption requirements.
	It is often necessary to negotiate exemptions with
institutions. The problem is when that institution has to
reassure federal and other bodies about research projects.
But any institution's Research Committee should have both a
set of guidelines, and a set of well defined exemptions, to
protect researchers and subjects from exploitation, either
by each other or by onerous sets of regulations.
Roly Sussex
Director
Centre for Language Teaching and Research
University of Queensland
Queensland 4072
Australia
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue