A Participant’s Challenges: Facing the Absence of Regulation in Your Local Context

Approaching the world of social, behavioral and educational research (SBER) can be particularly challenging for those whose domestic regulatory framework does not provide a context for this type of research. Having the opportunity to participate in the AER16 Pre-Conference Program, Critical Topics in Social, Behavioral, and Educational Research, was a great help in meeting these challenges.

In countries other than the United States, such as my country of Colombia, regulations for SBER do not exist. Therefore, many involved in SBER research with human subjects—including researchers and members of the IRB—seek to analyze, evaluate, and interpret the American regulations for protecting and minimizing the risks to research participants according to our local cultural and scientific context.

During the analysis and discussion of the cases studies proposed by speakers Elizabeth A. Buchanan and Dean R. Gallant, I was able to see how it is imperative for IRB members and researchers to establish clear lines of action to ensure adequate protection for participants; even more so when conducting research with participants who are more susceptible to risk.

With the contribution of moderators and participants, I felt at home discussing situations that, while not alien to Latin American reality, are very different in a North American context. With the establishment of clear policies,  risks in SBER can be minimized in any context.

Therefore, the challenge I set for myself before starting this pre-conference program was to accomplish two main objectives:

  • Recognize the importance of establishing an appropriate risk assessment for SBER research in the absence of standards governing SBER research in my country.
  • Identify the common points between the North American SBER regulations and those that we, in Colombia, can advance in the proposal of a public policy in research ethics that includes SBER.

To that end, I hope to bring what I learned from this program to my context and to be able, together with my IRB team, to prepare a proposal to present to the regulatory bodies of research in Colombia, allowing us to start with the process of SBER regulation.