Publications and other projects designed to improve teaching, learning, and university administration, as well as broader writings on the future of the social sciences.
How Human Subjects Research Rules Mislead You and Your University, and What to Do About It”.Abstract. Working Paper. “
Faculty and students planning research involving human subjects are required by their universities to pass formal certification tests and then submit research plans for prior approval. Those who diligently take the tests may better understand certain important legal requirements but, at the same time, are likely misled into thinking they can apply these rules to their own work which, in fact, they are not permitted to do. They will likely also be missing many other legal requirements not mentioned in the required training but which govern their behaviors. Finally, they are likely to completely misunderstand the essentially political situation they find themselves in. The resulting risks to their universities, collaborators, and careers may be catastrophic, in addition to contributing to the more common ordinary frustrations of researchers with the system. To avoid these problems, faculty and students conducting research about and for the public need to understand that they are public figures, to whom different rules apply, ones that political scientists have long studied. University administrators (and faculty in their part-time roles as administrators) need to reorient their perspectives as well. University research compliance bureaucracies have grown, in well-meaning but sometimes unproductive ways -- not required by federal laws or guidelines. We offer advice to faculty and students for how to deal with the system as it exists now, and suggestions for changes in university research compliance bureaucracies, that should benefit faculty, students, staff, university budgets, and our research subjects.