AHRECS: Voice for constructive change. We provide access to some of the leading experts in human research ethics in Australia and New Zealand.
We provide expert and high quality consultancy services relating to research integrity, human research ethics, educational integrity and publication ethics for Australia, New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Over the years AHRECS has provided advice on human research ethics and research integrity matters to government departments, institutions, researchers, research ethics reviewers and ethics managers.
What do HREC members think and do when deciding about children’s participation in social research? Results from the MESSI survey
In this guest post, Associate Professor Stephanie Taplin (UTS) reflects upon the reflections and attitudes of members of a research ethics committee when reviewing a project involving sensitive issues, where the participants are young people.
She reflects upon the degree that this consideration is based upon standards and expectations that are often not transparent to researchers and can be an impediment to useful/important research.
This post is based upon a longer research output that was about research exploring those attitudes.
This included whether there were topics that a research ethics committee member would never approve for a research project to explore with young people.
This work points to the need for specialist professional development for committee members relating to research on sensitive issues with young people.
This also raises the question of what guidance material institutions publish for researchers and for reference by research ethics reviewers.
Think of, and treat, consent as a powerful and complex verb, not a strictly defined and constrained noun
The notion of consent and the expectation researchers will seek the prior consent of participants has a long history in human research ethics.
It has been a feature of many of the most infamous ethical Breakers commerce stamps and scandals.
Consequently, it has become a baked in feature of most of the guidelines on human research ethics.
But is that a good thing?
The typical approach to consent in human research doesn’t really work for a number of circumstances, research designs or potential how to participant pools.
Long strict guidelines can compound the error and can risk alienating researchers.
A more nuanced approach that provides guidance on necessary features of consent material can be more helpful than template consent materials.
This is exactly the kind of approach that this called for by the National Statement in Australia
In this terrific and thoughtful post, Colin Thomson AM, a Senior Adviser to AHRECS, reflects on what we mean when we talk about expertise i the context of Human Research Ethics Review.
Do we mean expertise in ethics, research ethics or ethics review or a combination?
Do they fit together seamlessly and easily or is there an incongruence?
He frames these matters, when talking about research ethics committee members and research ethics reviewers across ten important categories.
He then suggests ten tests that could be usefully applied to evaluate the quality of review feedback.
How your institution’s research ethics committee and its review feedback fare if judged against this criteria?
Is it time they had some professional development? Does the Committee’s standard operating procedures need to be updated?
This is a valuable read for research ethics committee Chairs, Secretaries and members.
AHRECS is conducting Human Research Ethics and Animal Ethics workshops in Perth in November.
Wed 3 November 2021 – Animal Ethics workshop
The theme this year focuses on managing large groups of animals such as in laboratories, farms and in the wild. Researchers are adept at managing animals, but when the numbers become very large things can become ethically complex. For instance, how are the 3R principles being met?[iv] Further, when there is overlap between research and the management of a farm or when research is focused on the needs of wildlife the ethical complexities of managing animals as part of research can increase. What are the key issues an AEC needs to focus on and how is this best approached? Expert speakers will address these issues covering the ethical considerations of integrating research into large farm operations, the ethical issues of undertaking environmental research involving large numbers of animals, and a panel of experts will discuss the ethical issues encountered when managing large laboratory projects involving animals.
Wed 17 November – Human Ethics workshop
The theme this year focuses on “what I wish I knew before I started”. It is not uncommon for research to raise ethical questions that were not…
In this thought-provoking post, Nik Zeps (a consultant with AHRECS and a partner at Chrysalis) discusses the serious harm (in terms of reputation and career, as well as lost useful lines of inquiry) when there are complaints that allege ethical problems with clinical research.
These relate to situations where the clinical research is evaluating different kinds of intervention, where the evidence for the ‘accepted’ treatment might not be clear.
A misunderstanding of such research designs and a visceral reaction to apparent breaches aren’t helpful.
When such allegations are made, the researchers are rarely afforded an opportunity to respond and explain. If they were, one assumes that the manner could be easily cleared up.
We are embarrassed to admit in our own reporting of the cited case we really didn’t grasp the realities of what occurred or called out the very emotive reaction.
When it comes to the approach to human research ethics, did we buy London Bridge thinking it was Tower Bridge?
In this post, two experienced research ethics officers risk being decried as heretics by reflecting upon the justifications that are used for the current Human Research Ethics arrangements in countries around the world.
They use the sale of London Bridge in the Sixties and the urban myth that the US millionaire who bought it thought he was buying Tower Bridge, to ask, given the time, effort and resources expended on research ethics review, are we getting what we paid for?
There are genuine benefits that can flow from a well-conducted review process and they do justify the existence of those processes, but we should stop claiming those processes safeguard us against the criminal, unethical and reckless behaviour of the past.
They don’t and we should stop claiming in our professional development activities and resource material they do.
AHRECS in Asia
AHRECS in Asia
Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services: Our work in Asia
澳大利亚和新西兰人类研究伦理咨询服务 / 澳大利亞和新西蘭人類研究倫理諮詢服務
Despite our name and our strong connections to Australia and New Zealand, for several years we have been providing advice to institutions in East and South-East Asia. In 2003, Gary Allen helped the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam establish its human research ethics arrangements.
Following a period as an external examiner in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, Mark Israel advised the Faculty of Law there on research integrity.
Resourcing Reflective Practice
Individually and together we have written a fair amount (see Gary, Mark and Colin‘s profiles for references) about the inherent flaws
of the enforcement and compliance approach. A more constructive, sustainable and positive approach is one that has a resourcing
reflective practice objective. See this short whiteboard video for more about this approach.