Oral History Projects
Much of oral history does not constitute Research by federal guidelines. Such is the case of just collecting random stories. For oral history projects, IRB approval is necessary only if you are learning things about your subjects that you would ordinarily not have access to.
If, however, you are asking people questions about their lives, attitudes, politics, thoughts, feelings, behavior or anything else that you wouldn't know without asking them, then you are in some sense asking them to share something private with you. This is considered Research under federal guidelines.
DOES Require IRB Application:
- Projects intended as research that will use interviewing. For example, if you are interviewing Vietnam War veterans and you intend to use the material you collected to argue for a thesis about the nature of memory among war veterans, that would be Research, because you are trying to draw a general conclusion from the data you collect.
- Surveys and interview research involving children (or "vulnerable public") and some kinds of observation of public behaviour with children.
DOESN'T Require IRB Application:
- Interviewing Vietnam War veterans just to learn something about what they think about the war.
- Oral history interviews in which people are watched or videotaped in public places but the observer does not interact with the subjects. These qualify as Research, but would probably be considered Exempt Research.