Imagine that you have been a member of a research team conducting an Institution Review Board (IRB) approved study of interpersonal aggression among preschoolers for more than a year. In that time, your team has repeatedly employed a consistent set of procedures to study preschoolers’ behaviors.
The procedures involve volunteer mothers bringing their children to your university’s child development lab for an observed “play session”. So far your young study subjects have been fairly racially homogenous (alike), from middle-class families and recruited (via contact with their parents) from a university preschool, affluent parts of town day-care centers, and a pre-kindergarten program being offered in the neighborhood school district.
This means that, much to your frustration, you can’t claim that your study results are useful in understanding the behaviors of different race/ethnicity preschoolers and those from varying socio-economic status (SES) and education level families.
But wait…now you have learned that a friend of a friend can help you gain research access to a group of unusually racially diverse preschoolers from varying SES and education backgrounds, if you can do observations of these children really soon and at their day care facility.
Several of your team members want to pursue this option and move on it quickly, arguing that there is no time to prepare a formal research proposal before embarking on the study in a new setting. “Besides the time issue,” they argue, “except for happening in a different place, our procedures should go just like all the others we’ve done and we already had them reviewed and approved by the IRB.