Volume 8 Issue 1 (2012)
Main Articles

Institutional Barriers to Research on Sensitive Topics: Case of Sex Communication Research Among University Students

Carey M. Noland
Northeastern University
Published November 24, 2012
  • research experience,
  • research context,
  • research ethics,
  • research quality,
  • institutional review board,
  • peer interviewer,
  • sensitive topic,
  • sex communication research
  • ...More


When conducting research on sensitive topics, it is challenging to use new methods of data collection given the apprehensions of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). This is especially worrying because sensitive topics of research often require novel approaches. In this article a brief personal history of navigating the IRB process for conducting sex communication research is presented, along with data from a survey that tested the assumptions long held by many IRBs. Results support some of the assumptions IRBs hold about sex communication research, but do not support some other assumptions.