The Department of Communication congratulates Dr. Jennifer Mize Smith on her appointment as 2015-16 Co-Chair of the Internal Review Board (IRB) and as Chair in 2016-17. The IRB is responsible for approving all research conducted with human subjects at Western Kentucky University. Those interested in performing research (student or faculty) must submit their research materials for approval before they begin gathering information. According to Dr. Mize Smith, most research requests are evaluated by herself and Co-Chair Dr. Scott Lasley (Political Science). “We will review over 500 research applications this academic year.” In the event there is a research proposal that poses moderate risk, or involves a protected group like minors, the full Board led by Dr. Mize Smith decides the validity of the research request. “I especially like to see the student applications and the ways in which they are learning to conduct research to better understand the problems and phenomena of interest to them.”
Given her background in Organizational Communication research and nearly six years of experience with the Internal Review Board, Dr. Mize Smith is well positioned for this new role. In her classes, students learn that she has a thorough and deliberate approach to teaching and research, qualities that will enhance her work on the committee. For her small group communication course students must obtain IRB approval for the major project. In leading students through the process she does not trivialize the necessity of protection for human subjects, but instead emphasizes why it is vital. She is genuinely enthusiastic about making sure her student’s research submissions are of the highest quality.
Dr. Mize Smith is a great example of how the Department of Communication is actively involved in the research process. For more information on the protection of human subjects and the internal review board visit the website for the Office of Research Integrity at https://www.wku.edu/compliance/.