Fred Oswald reports that Sian Beilock sent him sufficient amounts of raw data from her research study so allow him to answer his questions about the large effects that were observed. This sort of collegiality is central to the collective scientific enterprise.
The bad news is that IRB’s are still getting in the way. Beilock was very helpful but she had to work within the constraints of her IRB, which apparently advised her not to share data—even if de-identified—without getting lots more permissions.
It is a little concerning that the IRB bars the sharing of de-identified data, particularly in light of the specific guidelines of the journal Science, which appears to say that when you submit a study to the journal for publication, you are allowing for the sharing of de-identified data — unless you expressly say otherwise at the point that you submit the paper for consideration.
Again, I don’t blame Beilock and Ramirez—they appear to have been as helpful as can be given their IRB. I hope the journal’s rules will have some impact on IRB decisions. Maybe once the university realizes that they won’t be getting articles in Science, they’ll curb the IRB’s arbitrary exercises of power.
P.S. Russell makes a good comment:
I think the problem is not the IRB, but rather the terms of the consent agreement. The IRB is objecting not to the sharing of data, but rather to the fact that the participants in the study did not consent to be included in the database. I can understand that. I would participate in a study about political views that somebody might be using for a paper, but not necessarily one in which the database was published, because of the risks of identification described above and because if my political views were widely known it could affect my chances of tenure (i.e., somebody might vote against me for purely political reasons).
The cure is not to change IRBs, but rather to change our consent letters so that we talk about building the database in addition to the journal publications. This is what we need to raise the consciousness of researchers about.