Regulating Research by Institutional Review Boards
Research is an essential activity that can sometimes cause harm than benefits if not well regulated. A researcher needs to undertake a research activity for the common good of the society. A research activity should not be personalized. Researchers may manipulate information collected, and give false results. Information can also be collected by force and published without the consent of the participants. There are some of the unethical practices that take place during the research activity.
For these reasons, the Institutional Review Board should come in, to regulate research exercises. The boards should approve the research activity to be carried out either by government or individual projects. The institution should minimize risks that may be as a result of a research study. There should be common rules that should be known to all researchers. Having rules would reduce unethical issues that have been experienced in different research studies.
Case Studies of Past Unregulated Researches
- The Tuskegee experiment was conducted 30 years ago. This study was conducted on 40 men who had syphilis. The participants were never informed of having syphilis. Tuskegee institute claim was that the men were treated for bad blood. The study aimed at monitoring the spread of syphilis. Even with known cure of the disease, he institute never treated the men. Medication used led to the death of participants, and the disease spread to wives and children.
- In another instance, IRBs should ensure a common rule of honesty and openness in research. Concerning the study of bones gathered from Ontario ossuary, claims suggest that the bones were used for unauthorized student research. In this research, there was also no consultation of the relevant authorities such as Alderville First Nation. Lack of openness and informed consent should be regulated by IRBs.
- The Yanomami case suffered lack of integrity and informed consent. The study on Yanomami people began in 1966 by James Neel. The research involved taking blood samples for analysis. Upon knowing that Yanomami people were at risk of measles, Neel used Edmonson B vaccine to control the disease. Even though this would be beneficial to the people, the vaccine did not work due to lack of gamma globulin. The Yanomami people were also not consulted regarding this research. Withholding essential information is an issue that Institutional Review Boards should seek to correct. Having common rules regulating research would reduce mistakes that affect participants and the society at large.
Institutional Review Boards Control
However, Institutional Review Boards should not be so strict to deny researchers some freedom. Researchers should comply with rules but have the freedom to make particular choices. According a case by Jin Li, we can see that IRBs is exercising too much control over other people’s research. Li is an associate Professor and a researcher who seek fund from private sources. She uses the funds to compensate participants for their help. She is expected to pay them $600 for each family.
In contrary, she decides to give low-income families $600 and upper and middle-income families $300. She argues that low-income families spent a lot of time completing the survey question. Such a decision was considered unethical by IRBs. The families had signed informed consent and were comfortable with their compensation. IRBs should give researchers freedom to manage their funds. Individuals funding the research through private means should have autonomy of using their funds.
Institutional Review Board should also enforce regulations that ensure the society benefits from the research. The Board should ensure that researchers are trustworthy in order to avoid mistakes. The board should also enforce the rule of informed consent and openness. Members should be aware of the research and protected from any form of harm. It should also coordinate with health institutions and ensure that medications used on people are of high standard and beneficial to the society.