About Me

Find out more about me here.

24 September 2014

Why I Stepped Down as IRB Chair

After a year at the helm, I stepped down as the IRB chair at my college at the beginning of this semester. I initially and enthusiastically agreed to serve as IRB chair when first asked, as I saw it as an opportunity to serve my university using my unique expertise in research methodology and ethics. While I would be remiss if I did not admit that I also saw it as an opportunity to help my bid for tenure and to raise my status on campus, I lost any illusions of a leadership role on campus two weeks after starting my first job out of grad school, seeing the problems posed by and to administrators. Within weeks of taking over as IRB chair, I learned that the position was not one that required much academic knowledge but instead called for an impossible balance of interpersonal diplomacy and personal fortitude. Being an IRB chair is more about managing the expectations of one's colleagues than anything else. (I plan to detail these issues in upcoming posts.) The IRB, it turns out, is one of academics favorite punching bags, and the chair is the public face of an invisible and misunderstood bureaucracy. As the stress of dealing with difficult colleagues mounted, I came slowly to the realization that I was unwilling to accept dutifully the anxiety that this manifested.

I think that the situation could be framed in two ways. First, one can choose to see this as a personal failing on my part. I simply was not up to the challenge. As the saying goes, if you can't stand the heat, get your ass out of the kitchen. Second, one could instead choose to see this as an issue of cultural and institutional dysfunction, of social structure creating an unreasonable challenge. If you can't stand the heat, perhaps the kitchen has been designed in a way that is not conducive to productivity. (I plan to detail these issues in upcoming posts as well.) While I must admit that there is a chance that I am just individually ill-suited to such a role, ignoring cultural and institutional dysfunction is deleterious. More to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment