Ethics, Institutional Review Boards, and the Changing Face of Educational Research

Publisher: Educational Researcher, 22 (9)
Page Numbers: 27-33

Educational research has enjoyed special exemptions from formal ethical oversight of research on human subjects since the original mandate from the federal government that such oversight must occur. Although interpreting these exemptions has always been a potential source of controversy and conflict for university Institutional Review Boards, the burgeoning use of qualitative methods has further complicated matters. This article discusses the original rationale for special exemptions for educational research and then examines which varieties of qualitative educational research are consistent with it and which varieties are not. The article also examines the formal ethical oversight of student research practica, an issue also complicated by the advent of qualitative methods. Specific policies are offered both for determining which varieties of qualitative research should qualify for the special educational exemptions and for formally overseeing student research practica.