Monday, June 20, 2011

IRB can be fun. Or someone just had a little too much while putting together a PowerPoint.

If you've never had a chance to do research with human subjects you probably aren't familiar with Institutional Review Boards. Pretty much every university has them. They exist to make sure human subjects aren't harmed by people conducting research and they aren't known for being super fun entities to work with.

As part of my new job I went through the entirety of the IRB's online training. One of the modules has a case study about why studies need to get IRB approval involving a survey administered to middle school aged children asking about their sexual desires and experiences that didn't file an application for approval with the IRB. It makes sense that this could be problematic especially since their parents weren't informed or asked for consent. Some of them got pretty angry and it caused the university a bit on embarrassment.

Here's the fun part. This story is illustrated in the online training module by a picture of a shirtless middle school aged boy with his arms around the neck of a cow. I really hope it's meant to incinuate something about the content of the survey without explicitly saying it. If not, it may be the poorest choice of illustrating image in the history of man.

Either way, it's classic.

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