The Human Subjects Nightmare

William J. Bowers, Northeastern University

Human subjects protection have become a bureacratic nightmare: (a) its administration is often in the hands of experimentally oriented professionals from medical related fields, (b) reliance is placed upon consultants whose enumeration is enhanced by the obscure and arcane kinds of risks they can conjure, (c) duplication of jurisdiction paralyzes multi site research, (d) mission creep has cramped dissertation and related research of advanced students, (e) the terrorist principle "we will shut down your whole operation" is a constant threat. These themes will be illustrated with examples from the 14 state Capital Jury Project. Is there a standards setting role for social science professional organizations? What role should university faculty play in the administration of human subjects protection? Answers to these questions will be considered.

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Updated 05/20/2006