Investigating an ethical barrier – should HRECs require gatekeeper approval from universities before external research?
Investigating an ethical barrier – should HRECs require gatekeeper approval from universities before external research? | In this traffic post, Kate Christian questions the elephant in the room when it comes to research about universities.
Why do ethics committees require the approval of the institution?
Especially when participants aren’t vulnerable.
Whose interests are they protecting and why?
For national research, the results can be time-consuming, frustrating and add a little to the research.
Early career researchers might meekly accept this but it sucks time, energy and resources. But research Ethics committees should ask themselves the questions: Is this efficient and is it fair? Insisting upon institutional approval may well be skewing the data and distorting the results?
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
Expertise in ethics, research ethics or review?
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.
HREC and AEC Workshops in Perth
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…
Unnatural justice: Public allegations could cause significant harm to vital clinical trial activity
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.
Regulation of human epigenetic editing: ensuring international frameworks for governing Human Genome Editing don’t impede vital medical research
In this thoughtful post, Nik Zeps reflects on human genome manipulation in medical research, the ethical guidance in Australia and internationally.
He discusses CRISPR and the furore in 2018 around the ‘genetically modified babies’ in China.
Nik then discusses the degree to which the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed discussions about human genetic manipulation off the media radar.
Nevertheless, there have been important international discussions about the topic, including a new WHO Framework. This topic was recently discussed in a paper by Zeps, Lysaght et al. 2021.
The situation might position the WHO as a major player in the international discussion about human genetic manipulation.
Are we missing the true picture? Stop calling a moneybox, a fishing hook
It can be pleasing to see mainstream media taking an interest in research integrity,
Ethics CoPs not Ethics Police: Building communities of practice in ethics and integrity
In this post Gary Allen and Mark Israel discuss seeding and supporting virtual and physical Communities of Practice and their value over enforcement and policing.
Gary Allen and Mark Israel
Research ethics professionals have grown wary of researchers who talk disparagingly about the work of research ethics reviewers as the ‘ethics police’ (Klitzman, 2015; Makhoul et al., 2014). So, there is more than a little irony in our suggestion for responding constructively to such an adversarial stance (Allen & Israel, 2018) – the Community of Practice (CoP).
A CoP is characterised by a shared area of knowledge and set of practices within which experiences and insights can be shared and learning can be fostered (Wenger et al., 2002). Done well, a CoP can result in continual improvement across and…
The Ethics and Politics of Qualitative Data Sharing
Mark Israel (AHRECS and Murdoch University) and Farida Fozdar (The University of Western Australia).
Taking Time in the Midst of a Crisis: Prior Informed Consent, Sociability and Vulnerability in Ethnographic Research
As an anthropologist, the way I work has particular features which are, in my