Share, Connect with Others, and Document your IRB Administrator Story

PRIM&R hosted the 2020 Advancing Ethical Research Virtual Conference at a time like no other—during a pandemic. The conference proceedings prompted me to reflect on my experiences at previous conferences and one key word emerged: network.

The year 2020 transformed the way we connect, engage professionally, and socialize. If asked in 2019 what my predictions of 2020 might be, it would not have included the near-constant use of Zoom. While we cannot predict the future, we can continue to work on ways that connect and support each other.

Despite the obstacles we faced in 2020 (and continue to face today), ethicists, educators, professionals, and researchers are finding innovative ways to ask questions, share stories, commiserate, and inspire conversations.

As a research compliance administrator, I know the value of documentation. We are living in unprecedented times, and the policies we create today may have long-lasting impacts on how research is conducted into the future.

As such, I created a departmental timeline beginning March 5, 2020, when I first asked the question, “…what is this COVID thing?” I documented personal reflections of those early days and how they shaped the decisions we make today. My reflections specifically focus on design decisions we made as we developed policies and procedures in response to COVID-19 and human subjects research. In addition to a detailed timeline of events, I documented:

  • The process of implementing policies and procedures for our research community
  • Specific themes that embodied our policies and procedures (e.g., “care for you,” “care for others,” and “care for the community”)
  • Concept design work that was never realized or prototyped, but inspired other ideas
  • Theoretical areas, data, examples, and anecdotes that fueled our decisions

I recommend research compliance administrators document their professional narrative and reflect on their design decisions that led to policies and procedures. Administrators may also want to explore and contribute to PRIM&R’s COVID-19 oral history project.

While the year 2020 (and 2021), look different than anyone may have predicted, I am hopeful for a return to safe in-person engagement. I have fond memories of 2019, when I engaged with colleagues and friends at PRIM&R’s IRB Administrator Boot Camp, and I look forward to the day when I can see them all again face-to-face. In the meantime, I will see you remotely on Zoom.

Myra Luna-LuceroMyra Luna-Lucero, EdD, is the research compliance director at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a researcher and teacher, people are her highest priority and she instinctively communicates personal concern with others. She is an adept communicator who thrives on face-to-face interactions with a diverse body of students, faculty, and staff. She brings these qualities to her work to empower others to make informed decisions and reach their goals.

Dr. Luna-Lucero encourages researchers to ponder the roles they might play in the alleviation of the troubling inequities that continue to shape our world. She guides researchers on how to treat everyone as autonomous decision-makers who possess unique opinions. She presents campus workshops on the importance of ethics, confidentiality, and protecting vulnerable populations. She meets individually with researchers to strategize ways to protect human subjects and do good work in the world.

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.

PRIM&R’s next AER Conference takes place virtually—in conjunction with our Social, Behavioral, and Educational Research Conference—November 16–19, 2021. Browse our networking events to find ways to connect with your peers. Learn more and register online!