In the socio-behavioral sciences there is a type of research we might call "Evolving Research" in which the questions that are posed evolve in the course of an investigation. An example is ethnography, where research questions may only be clarified after a period of observation and where current findings drive the next steps in the study. This type of research typically involves studying human behavior in non experimental settings, with or without active participation by the investigator; but it can also occur in more structured observational settings (e.g., oral histories, focus groups). The data/information obtained may be qualitative and/or quantitative.
In specific cases, where such research does not pose more than minimal risk to human subjects, the protocol may usually be considered for approval in an "Exempt Review." The IRB application, especially A2 should include:
- that the research involves observation of behavior occurring in public (including domains of the Internet clearly intended to be publicly accessible), for which no identifying information is recorded
- an outline of the study's basic areas of interest or the types of behavior that will be recorded and/or the base questions that will be asked to start the explorations
- assurances that the evolving research will be conducted in an ethically appropriate fashion, with full protection of human subjects
Note that different studies by the same investigator(s) must be submitted to the IRB as separate research protocols. If the same basic study is being done with a different or additional population the PI should file an IRB Protocol Amendment Form .
Oral History Project Reviews are handled by the Kenyon IRB with a separate application procedure and form. see Oral History Projects