IRB approval for research using interviews

Sarah Wallace has some interesting comments on the process of getting IRB approval for using (interviewing) human subjects for her Ukraine project. Here’s an excerpt:

All week, I’ve been working hard on my application for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of my project in Ukraine. …Procedures for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects are the same, no matter who conducts the research; thus, student researchers like myself are held to the same standards as faculty researchers. If an undergraduate at Duke wants to conduct research that involves human subjects in any capacity, he or she must fill out a long, complicated application and send it to the Duke IRB before beginning the study.
..there is a chance that I won’t gain approval until after I arrive in Ukraine. …
Although the form took a lot of time and effort to complete, I’m very glad I did it. It really made me think through my research approach at a level of detail that I hadn’t before.


See her full post here, or check out her Notes from YkpaïHa feed on the right.

And here’s her update:

The Duke IRB liked my protocol a lot. Flattery aside, however, they had “a number” (read – “a million”) suggestions for ways to improve my consent forms and other documents.

..[I must] also prepare a separate consent protocol for the interviewees that are Ark workers/ICARR participants. As the IRB pointed out to me, these people shoulder the most risk by talking to me, so I must take extra precaution to ensure that their interviews are kept confidential.

2 thoughts on “IRB approval for research using interviews”

  1. Does anyone know how you cite confidential interviews? I haven’t been able to find it in any style guide.

  2. Hi, Dan,

    I have checked a couple of style guides and the IRB sites at UNC and Duke and haven’t come across this info either… I have consulted with several other librarians, all of whom wonder why you need to cite these interviews at all, considering that you wish to keep the interviewees confidential and that you are the one who collected the data. One librarian’s rationale is as follows:

    I tell students that if they are reporting their own research — they conducted the interview themselves — then there’s no citation required. I reason that the citation is used to give credit for someone else’s intellectual property or to direct the reader to the original material. If the student collected the data, then neither of these reasons for citation apply.

    I agree with her…what are your thoughts, though? I have a feeling that there may be a bit more to your question… Feel free to contact me directly at, if you like.

Comments are closed.