Category Archives: research

I Review Stark, Behind Closed Doors

Cross-posted from Institutional Review Blog:

The American Journal of Sociology has published my review of Laura Stark’s Behind Closed Doors. I describe it as an “illuminating account of how ethics review really works,” but note that “Stark’s reluctance to condemn [IRB] behavior sets her apart from other observers of IRBs in action” and that it is “a stretch for Stark to claim that today’s IRBs use ‘a decision-making model that stabilized in the 1950s and 1960s.'”

[Zachary M. Schrag, Review of Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research by Laura Stark. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Pp. Viii+229. $85.00 (cloth); $27.50 (paper).” American Journal of Sociology 118, no. 2 (September 2012): 494–496. www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/664671]

For my comments on Stark’s dissertation, on which the book is based, see “How IRBs Decide–Badly: A Comment on Laura Stark’s ‘Morality in Science.’

Guest Blogging at the Aporetic

My colleague Mike O’Malley graciously gave me the chance to argue with him on his own blog, the Aporetic. My post, “More Babies in That Bathwater,” appeared on Monday, and Mike’s reply, “There Can Be More Than One,” appeared yesterday. To sum things up, Mike thinks that the questions facing scholarly publication are whether they will be print or digital, and whether peer review will by anonymous or signed. I think the real issue is whether editors will be paid or unpaid.

Wary eyes on Dulles rail project’s bottom line

Dana Hedgpeth, “Wary eyes on Dulles rail project’s bottom line,” Washington Post, 1 October 2011.

The original Metro system was estimated to cost $2.5 billion in 1969, but it came in at $3.8 billion — not counting inflation, according to Zachary M. Schrag, associate professor of history at George Mason University and author of “The Great Society Subway,” a history of Metro.

“It would be somewhat surprising for a major rail transit project to be completed on budget,” Schrag said. “Most major projects of any kind go over budget, that includes road projects, weapons systems, space programs, stadiums.”

Typically, overruns hit because it is hard to predict the cost of such expenses as materials and the relocation of utilities in a construction area, Schrag said. “It is kind of a vicious spiral where people low-ball the estimates to get their project approved,” he said.