Oh, why thank you, Nancy. I guess my pages of letters and project proposals and bibliographies and repeated phone calls that you did not return did the trick after all.
For those of you who don't know, I've been doing a pretty dance with the ORCA office and the IRB lately. ORCA stands for Office of Research and Creative Activities, and they were supportive enough to award me a grant to the tune of $1500 back in February to help fund my trip to India. I have only now been able to pick it up becuase as I was technically doing human subject research (debatable, but whatever), I had to get IRB approval of my research project. Well, they turned me down which prompted my professors to call them ridiculous, clueless, and not living on this planet. I was and am very grateful for their support and the effort they went to and the advice they gave me on how to proceed. I know it was because of their behind the scenes work and phone calls that I'm sure were made that I have had any success at all with this matter.
IRB stands for Institutional Review Board, and every university in America has them as a result of the human testing done by German scientists during WWII and a little incident with Tuskagee University... If any professor or student wants to do human subject research, they have to submit an application to the board (or The Board as they refer to themselves as) and await the green light. Any individual associated with a university found not in compliance with these rules causes the whole university's federal funding pulled immediately and no journal would come within 10 feet of their summarized findings.
I was a little put out by the rejection letter, you can be sure. But my wonderful professors rallied 'round, and helped me come up with modifications to my project. I will now be collecting oral histories of widowed women while I am in India. More on this later. Oral histories, we convinced the ORCA office, were exempt from IRB jurisdiction as they lay somewhere between investigative journalism, history research, and still under the aegis of anthropology. They do not conform to regular definitions of scientific research since I will not testing a hypothesis or trying to create a general theory about widows.
It was hard, it was confusing and time-consuming, and it was definitely a learning experience for me. But I think with the revisions, my project is better than ever while still maintaining its integrity. I guess I can only say this because of how well everything turned out.