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Oakes, J. M. (2002). Risks and wrongs in social science research. An evaluator’s guide to the IRB. Evaluation Review, 26(5), 443–479. https://doi.org/10.1177/019384102236520


Having an Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and monitor the use of human subjects is now fundamental to ethical research. Yet social scientists appear increasingly frustrated with the process. This article aims to assist evaluators struggling to understand and work with IRBs. The author theorizes why IRBs frustrate and insists there is only one remedy: We must accept the legitimacy of IRB review and (a) learn more about IRB regulations, imperatives, and the new pressures on them; and (b) educate IRBs about social scientific methodologies and empirically demonstrable risks. A research agenda and tips are offered.