Earlier this month, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recommended that researchers should be trusted with the ability to decide whether individual studies involving human subjects should be exempt from regulation. The AAUP’s report, which was prepared by a subcommittee of the Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, proposes that minimal risk research should be exempt from the human research protection regulations and that faculty ought to be given the ability to determine when such an exemption may apply to their own projects.
Specifically, the report states, “Research on autonomous adults should be exempt from IRB approval straightforwardly exempt, with no provisos and no requirement of IRB approval of the exemption) if its methodology either (a) imposes no more than minimal risk of harm on its subjects, or (b) consists entirely in speech or writing, freely engaged in, between subject and researcher.”
These recommendations, designed to address long-standing concerns by social scientists about bureaucratic intrusions into their work, are misguided and could result in real harm to research subjects. Read More