Many socio-behavioral researchers find some of the vocabulary of human subjects protection and the policies of IRBs to have a decidedly natural science orientation. Be assured that the Kenyon College IRB has excellent representation from the Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines.
If you are confused by the terminology used or unsure how a question pertains to your research, you may contact the IRB administrator for help in completing your IRB application.
Here is some additional help for certain types of socio-behavioral research:
From: Ellis, Carolyn, "Communicating Qualitative Research Study Designs to Research Ethics Review Boards" in The Qualitative Report. Vol.16, n. 3, May 2011, pp. 881-891. http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR16-3/ells.pdf
How to Communicate the Justification of Study Design and Research Procedures
A researcher should be able to describe and justify the particulars of her or his study design, and all the procedures and protections that will be used and why (Daly et al., 2008). It is important to put all this information in writing in the protocol submitted for research ethics review (Daly et al.). The researcher should be cognizant of the need to honestly convince members of the review board that it is acceptable to involve human participants in her/his research (as well as the need for the review board to have sufficient evidence on file to justify its approval of the research). Being very clear about the research question(s) is especially important for it is a point of reference to understand the many substantive aspects of the study. As Eakin and Mykhalovskiy (2003) explain, reviewers will use the research question(s) as a “positioning device” to grasp the nature of the investigation including the kind of knowledge being sought and the stance needed to interpret the data. Whether seeking an explanation, understanding a phenomenon, or confirming a hypothesis, assessing the quality of any research design begins with and relies on correctly clarifying the research question(s) (Eakin & Mykhalovskiy; Sandelowski & Barroso, 2003).
Justifying the researcher’s study plan requires many “because” clauses such as:
“This study is important because…”, “This method and analysis strategy is chosen because…”, “Potential participants will be recruited from this
group because…”, “Potential participants will be approached and invited to participate in the following manner because…”, “The data will be used
and stored in the following ways because…” and so on. pp.884-885