Dissertation Year: Day 5 -- Grant management, IRB
This is a blog series on my (hopefully) final graduate school year, detailing my dissertation project from beginning (ish) to end.
TL;DR -- I moved money around so I can add more participants to my study; I was told my study would be approved by the institutional review board faster than I previously thought
My dissertation project was awarded an internal grant in the spring. Two other projects are off-shoots of my Theory of Mind research line, and two undergraduate RAs were awarded undergraduate research awards for these projects too. This obviously is a huge thing for me because these are three projects that are really interesting to me and were developed by me (with the off-shoot projects having considerable input from both RAs). As I've learned, never assume you'll be award a grant. Ever.
So I didn't assume any of these grants would be funded, and we requested funding for materials as if one grant was the only money we'd ever get. But then we got two grants. And then three.
Since we portioned money in each grant for the same materials, I wanted to see if there was a way to purchase less materials and also spread the cost across all three grants. Roughly, rather than spending $100 each on blunt tipped needles, we can all share one box for $100 and split the cost ~$33 each. That saves $200 that can go towards participant compensation.
After meeting with one of the coordinators of these internal student grants, it seemed as though we just needed to document the changes via emailing him. He was afraid we were all merging our money together -- and perhaps he accidentally funded three grants that were the same project. On the contrary, we just have very similar materials -- completely different methods for each funded project.
So that's a huge relief. Hypothetically, we're paying $20 per participant. So an extra 10 participants would be great. We planned money for 65 participants. Now we can jump up to 75 participants.
Our Institutional Review Board has gone through some major changes in the last year. The original director(? Coordinator?) retired and a relatively young person was hired to be the director. On top of this, the Board was understaffed. So, the new director had to play catch up with less staff, creating a pretty long line for protocols to be approved.
For those who are unfamiliar with IRB, this is a review board that reviews all studies collecting human participant data. They are here to protect participants from dangerous or ethically unsound research. They are also here to protect the university from conducting dangerous or ethically unsound research.
Since I'm somewhat time-sensitive (~May 2017 defense, hopefully), I wanted to see what the wait time currently was for new protocols. Was informed that since the IRB has been fully staffed, wait-time has been decreased by 60%. So, for example, instead of waiting 5 months for a study protocol to be approved, the wait is now 2 months. Which was great news for me to hear, since I didn't want to have my back against the wall for data collection + analysis + writing everything up within the timeframe I've set for myself.
Hopefully next post I'll talk a little more about my project design. It's pretty neat, especially if you like Theory of Mind research.