DBASSE to Hold NSF-Funded Workshop on Human Subjects Regulations

January 23, 2013

by Paula Skedsvold

The National Research Council’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education launched a fast-track project to examine proposed revisions to the “Common Rule”– the most extensive changes offered since 1991– in relation to research in the behavioral and social sciences.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, a workshop will be held March 21-22, 2013 in Washington, DC, to analyze a range of issues that may inform the federal government’s current efforts to update the regulations. The issues under consideration include:

  • Appropriateness of the Common Rule for different behavioral and social science research methods;
  • Concept of information risk and its relationship to methods and mechanisms developed by the federal statistical community to protect confidentiality while providing access to research data;
  • Concept and appropriate treatment of psychological risk for human research participants;
  • Appropriate classification of research projects by the level of scrutiny required by an institutional review board;
  • Revisions to the consent process to facilitate informed decisions by human research participants while minimizing barriers to participation; and,
  • Training that can effectively instruct researchers, IRB members, and other administrators with a role in IRB processes.

The ad hoc committee, chaired by Susan Fiske of Princeton University, began its work on January 14, 2013, with a meeting to gather information from federal agencies, professional associations, and research organizations regarding the proposed changes and its impact on the research conducted by behavioral and social scientists. On the following day, the ad hoc committee began its work to lay out the most critical issues to address in the March workshop. 

The NRC will prepare a summary report of the workshop. If additional funding becomes available, a Phase II project will produce a consensus report with conclusions and recommendations. 

View the full project description and see a complete list of the Committee »