On this May Day edition of “What We’re Reading,” we start off with a link to Zachary Schrag’s article on IRBs, which examines “how talking became human subjects research.” Then, we turn to kids these days: how they’re being taught history and how they’re affected by growing up in a digital world. Also included are articles about secret wartime refugees, content versus design in history web sites, an excellent work of nonfiction (that unfortunately turns out to be based on fiction), and a move to open Brazilian archives. Finally, we link to a review essay in the New Yorker
on the Greek historian, Herodotus.
The federal Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) received a large response to their request for comment on research methods subject to institutional review boards (IRBs). Dr. Zachary Schrag, an assistant professor at George Mason University, reports that more than half of the 65 responses to the OHRP’s request asked for an exclusion of oral history research methods.
The American Historical Association formally requested that oral history be excluded from the list of topics subject to "expedited review" last week, in response to a recent request for comments from the Office of Human Research Protections. The letter, approved by the Association's executive committee, cites the profession's "long and unhappy experience with the way these policies have been implemented," and concludes that IRB oversight is in "conflict with the essential canons of our practice."
The federal government is inviting comments on policies that lead to the intrusion of institutional review boards (IRBs) into oral history research. This provides a rare opportunity for members of our profession to register their objections.
Digital is the buzzword in this edition of “What We’re Reading.” Check out articles on digitization projects at the Library of Congress as well as at libraries across the country. Then read about a Harvard Professor’s methods on integrating “digital innovation and scholarship” in his classroom. See also articles on the historical value of photos, Wikpedia’s anonymous editors, IRBs in Iraq, and more memories of Roy Rosenzweig.
Members who are troubled about the growing intrusion of Institutional Review Boards over oral history will want to take a look at Institutional Review Blog
, just started by Zachary Schrag at George Mason University.
Yesterday the AHA’s own Robert Townsend, assistant director for research and publications, lead a live online discussion
on the need (or lack there of) for institutional review boards in oral history.
Students, and their advisors, working on the history of the 20th century should take a look at the article on “Oral History Under Review”
in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education
. The Association is on record
as objecting to the often arbitrary application of IRB rules, which use criteria that seem wholly inappropriate to our field. The report documents a number of troubling cases that reinforce those concerns.