Ethical Research in Informal Learning Environments

VSA believes that visitor research and evaluation should be conducted in an ethical manner. A VSA task force explored regulations and guidelines surrounding the ethical conduct of research in informal learning environments. This task force was especially interested in understanding the role of Institutional Review Boards in the conduct of research studies, and in helping VSA members navigate the IRB certification process.

Standards for the conduct of ethical research are available at the American Educational Research Association 

An Institutional Review Board is a panel that is set up to ensure that studies proposed are ethical in design, and that follow federal assurances of quality and privacy. Many funding agencies now require that studies be IRB approved.

Web-based human subjects research training modules can be found on several sites

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) developed a widely used web based training program in human research subjects protections, provided for university and healthcare institutions.

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services provides an online training module for researchers (look for online training). You do not need to register, and can browse through the information.