A month into the Reese Lab, my team – focusing on global corruption – has an understanding of the product we’re trying to create, and it’s time for the IRB process. IRB is the university system that ensures research done with human subjects is ethical.
This is my third time filling out the IRB, and it doesn’t get any easier. Every time, though, I’ve found that the IRB process has one unexpected (non-ethics related) benefit: it forces you to figure out what you’re actually talking about. The IRB application provides a vehicle through which we organize our knowledge. In our way, it’s our first pitch. For the first time, we have to explain our product and the problem we are trying to solve to a layman audience.
Last week, we developed a general understanding of anti-corruption law and movements towards anti-corruption. This was (un)organized in a Google doc full of links and vague descriptions. Writing a summary of our project and research goals meant that we had to prioritize the most important and relevant information we had discovered, as well as figure out where the holes in our knowledge are.
This week has proven that the devil is in the details. Who in the corporate hierarchy, exactly, are we targeting? What do we need to know, and what questions are we really asking? How will we reach the people we need to talk to? These are questions we will answer more cohesively as the semester continues. For now, though, our IRB application forms the building blocks for our responses.