The risks associated with social, behavioral, and educational research (SBER) are often subjective, unpredictable, and hard-to-identify. Even the most experienced reviewers struggle with quantifying potential harms associated with SBER. On March 20, 2019, PRIM&R hosted a webinar, Assessing and Mitigating Risk in SBER. Presented by Amy Ben-Arieh, JD, MPH and Lara Sloboda, PhD, this webinar helped attendees understand risk as defined in the regulations and as applied to SBER; implement strategies for mitigating risk in SBER; and appreciate the complex nature of risk assessment and mitigation in SBER. Read more


On June 20, PRIM&R hosted a webinar, Advanced Noncompliance Scenarios for IACUCs: Laboratory Animals and Wildlife, which presented interactive scenarios to assist IACUCs in navigating the challenges associated with identifying, investigating, reporting, and correcting noncompliance at their institution. In this blog post, Stacy Pritt, DVM, MS, MBA, CPIA, CHRC, DACAW, assistant vice president for conflict of interest and the IACUC at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, offers input on a protocol review process called veterinary verification and consultation (VVC), and explores a scenario from the webinar in which this method may be employed by the IACUC to prevent noncompliance as well as to reduce regulatory burden. Read more


Enthusiasm for data sharing and research transparency has grown across the social sciences. This newer scholarly imperative has begun to overlap with the long-standing mandate to minimize risks for human subjects in research. IRBs play a crucial role in this realm, as the IRB’s recommendations on a social science research protocol will often determine whether or not the data obtained through the study may be shared in the future. IRBs are tasked with assisting and educating social scientists to include the appropriate elements, language, and procedures in their protocol materials in order for researchers to approach data sharing in an ethical and responsible manner. Read more


Every day and with every interaction, animals learn how to respond to the people in their research environment. Positive reinforcement training (PRT) techniques can improve animals’ level of compliance with research tasks, as well as their physiological response to their environment. It’s critical that IACUC members have a working knowledge of classical and operant conditioning in order to critically assess whether research proposals include appropriate PRT. On April 17, PRIM&R hosted a webinar to instruct IACUC professionals and members about PRT. Kelly Morrisroe, a research scientist and primate trainer at the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) at the University of Washington, served as the speaker. After the webinar, the presenter responded to some of the attendee questions that time didn’t permit us to address live. We’re pleased to share those responses with the readers of Ampersand. Read more


There’s a growing trend in Social, Behavioral, and Education Research (SBER)–machine learning–in which investigators often request to obtain, through direct interaction and intervention, various sets of data on human subjects, including their physiological (i.e., data obtained from either invasive or non-invasive means) and/or biometric data (e.g., audio/visual recordings). The research as originally conceived may or may not have been considered human subjects research, but its ultimate purpose is to teach machines how to think, draw conclusions, and process information in much the same way humans do. Read more