Ethics of Fieldwork

Am I Doing Research?

Does my work fall under the federal regulations?

If so, what do I need to do?

Any activities that satisfy the following definitions must be reviewed through IRB procedures:

  • Research means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
  • Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains:
    • data through intervention or interaction with the individual or
    • identifiable private information.

Note: The following is exempt from this policy:

  • Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as (i) research on regular and special education instructional strategies, or (ii) research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods.
  • From the federal regulation called the Common Rule.  Click here for the complete text.

Still unsure?

The IRB can help! You might start by contacting your departmental reviewer.

So, I am doing human subjects research. What now?

Members of the Bryn Mawr College community who are engaged in human subjects research are expected to contact their department's reviewer for the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB serves as a clearinghouse for human subjects research activities. This helps protect everyone, and should give you confidence that your research plans satisfy current ethical standards. This will all be helpful when you seek to publish your work or apply for grant funding. The IRB can also be a resource when difficulties arise.

Some general information about IRB review is presented at the end of the section of this Web site that discusses Principles of Responsible Research.