ACN - 101321555 Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)
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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Weaponised research: how to keep you and your sources safe in the age of surveillance – The Conversation (Sara Koopman | May 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on August 8, 2017

Surveillance has become so ubiquitous that it appears likely that Russia was caught in the act conspiring to fix the 2016 United States presidential election, and at least one of his staffers was basically overheard conspiring with them.

Politicians aren’t the only ones being watched. Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations detailing the US National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance have made clear that, these days, everyone should be thinking about privacy and security.

That includes academics, some of whom are undertaking sensitive, even dangerous, research. How can we work safely and ethically in an era of internet spying and wiretapping?

Read the rest of this discussion piece

This commentary refers to possibilities that are, to be candid, pretty alarming. It does suggest there are circumstances where researchers shouldn’t take a mobile phone with them into meetings/interviews with participants, and notes/data might be a source of risk if it is stored on a researcher’s machine (even in circumstances where the project’s output is published without personal identifiers).


Friday afternoon’s funny – Significant risk in whose opinion?0

Posted by Admin in on August 4, 2017

Cartoon by Don Mayne

The conduct of research ethics review often involves an assessment of the significance of risk, but will the participants view the risk in the same way? Lay and other community members should be able to bring that perspective to the review, as sometimes can academics from other disciplines, but how much ‘space’ is there for voicing such reservations or are they so long-serving they have become jaded by business as usual?

Principles and Guidelines for ethical research and evaluation in development – ACFID (Codes and Resource material | July 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on July 30, 2017

This document is intended to promote and support improved development practice in the areas of research and evaluation, to raise awareness, and to assist in the identification of ethical issues so that well-considered decisions can be made and justified. Ethical principles are considered most important as ethical practice in
research and evaluation relies on active self-reflection, discretion, judgement and appreciation of context.

This document was prepared by Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), in consultation with its member organisations, academic partners and the ACFID University Network. It was developed to assist ACFID members and is aligned with the ACFID Code of Conduct.1 In particular, the principles proposed here complement the values that underpin the work of ACFID members in aid and development represented in this Code of Conduct.2

The principles outlined here are based on and extend existing internationally recognised ethical research principles and guidance for data collection with human participants. The extensions include an emphasis on cross-cultural elements, power relations, capacity building and understanding the ‘development’ imperative within research practice conducted with and through non-governmental organisations.

Read the rest of the Code
Access the new ACFID resources to accompany the Code

Values in China as Compared to Africa: Two Conceptions of Harmony0

Posted by Admin in on July 29, 2017

Not specifically on research ethics, but a good and unusual comparison of African Ubuntu and Confucian traditions approaches to ideas about harmony in opposition to Western liberal. The first piece is by a South African-based philosopher. These two articles point to ways of promoting dialogue between researchers and reviewers within particular cultural contexts.


Acknowledging a twenty-first-century context of sophisticated market economies and other Western influences such as Christianity, what similarities and differences are there between characteristic indigenous values of sub-Saharan Africa and China, and how do they continue to influence everyday life in these societies? After establishing that ideals of harmonious relationships are central to both non-Western value systems, traditional African and Chinese conceptions of harmony are compared and contrasted, and a number of aspects are analyzed in which the appreciation of this value affects contemporary political, economic, and social interaction.

Metz, T. (2017) Values in China as Compared to Africa: Two Conceptions of Harmony. Philosophy East and West 67(2) 441-465. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/pew.2017.0034

And a response to Metz from Li

Chenyang Li (2016) Confucian Harmony in Dialogue with African Harmony: A Response. African and Asian Studies 15 (2016) 1-10; doi 10.1163/15692108-12341353