Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies has had the kind of impact that most scholarly authors can only dream about for their works. First published by W.W. Norton in 1997, the book won a Pulitzer Prize the next year for its author, Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles.
For decades, but especially in recent years, social scientists have been frustrated by institutional review boards, campus bodies that must approve studies involving human subjects.
The IRB's, as they are called, are best known for their work on informed consent with medical research. But the boards also must approve projects in which sociologists conduct surveys or do interviews -- even though such work doesn't pose any of the dangers of, say, a drug whose side effects could be deadly.