Institutional Review Boards (IRB) were instituted to protect the rights of research participants and due to past (and at times egregious) practices committed in the name of research. We question whether the IRB is currently overstepping its bounds into the domain of the researcher. We illustrate possible ways in which the IRB subtlety and not so subtlety challenge faculty professionalism and limit faculty research independence, highlighting some instances in which qualitative research topics bump up against boards that mistrust or misunderstand the nature of qualitative research. Using case study vignettes from five universities, our concerns focused on mission creep and potentially legitimating censorship. Areas of mission creep can include institutional reputation, methodological design, and chilling/legal language verses accessible language. In addition we consider multisite studies and when committees focus too much on form rather than content.


HumanSubjects, IRB, Institutional Review Board, Ethics, Academic Freedom, FacultyProfessionalism, Qualitative Research

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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