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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(China, Australia) Against the use and publication of contemporary unethical research: the case of Chinese transplant research (Papers: Wendy C Higgins, et al | July 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on July 9, 2020
 

Abstract

This July 2020 paper examines the argument for and against the publication of new, or retraction of old research outputs, where the work utilised organs from executed prisoners.  This isn’t just about an intensely captive relationship.

Recent calls for retraction of a large body of Chinese transplant research and of Dr Jiankui He’s gene editing research has led to renewed interest in the question of publication, retraction and use of unethical biomedical research. In Part 1 of this paper, we briefly review the now well-established consequentialist and deontological arguments for and against the use of unethical research. We argue that, while there are potentially compelling justifications for use under some circumstances, these justifications fail when unethical practices are ongoing—as in the case of research involving transplantations in which organs have been procured unethically from executed prisoners. Use of such research displays a lack of respect and concern for the victims and undermines efforts to deter unethical practices. Such use also creates moral taint and renders those who use the research complicit in continuing harm. In Part 2, we distinguish three dimensions of ‘non-use’ of unethical research: non-use of published unethical research, non-publication, and retraction and argue that all three types of non-use should be upheld in the case of Chinese transplant research. Publishers have responsibilities to not publish contemporary unethical biomedical research, and where this has occurred, to retract publications. Failure to retract the papers implicitly condones the research, while uptake of the research through citations rewards researchers and ongoing circulation of the data in the literature facilitates subsequent use by researchers, policymakers and clinicians.
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Higgins, WC., Rogers, W.A., Ballantyne, A., Lipworth, W. (2020)  Against the use and publication of contemporary unethical research: the case of Chinese transplant research. Journal of Medical Ethics. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2019-106044

The Opportunity Cost of Compulsory Research Participation: Why Psychology Departments Should Abolish Involuntary Participant Pools (Papers: Ruth Walker | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 23, 2020
 

Abstract

A widespread practice in psychology schools around the globe that needs to end.

Psychology departments often require undergraduates to participate in faculty and graduate research as part of their course or face a penalty. Involuntary participant pools (human subject pools) in which students are compulsorily enrolled are objectively coercive. Students have less autonomy than other research participants because they face a costly alternative task or the penalties that accompany failure to meet a course requirement if they choose not to participate. By contrast, other research participants are free to refuse consent without cost or penalty. Some researchers claim that the educational value of participation justifies the requirement. They treat coercion as a cost that can be outweighed by the benefits to students. This paper argues that such an approach is flawed because coercion is not like other costs and that educational value is inherently low relative to personal study or classroom time. The unethical nature of involuntary participation is best demonstrated with an opportunity cost analysis. This shows that students are forced to sacrifice higher value alternatives that they have paid to do and undertake a lower value activity that principally benefits others. Faculty have a conflict of interest as they are the beneficiaries of student coercion in their role as researchers and responsible for student achievement in their role as teachers. Voluntary participant pools can resolve this conflict but at the cost of reducing the supply of participants. A change in departmental research conduct is required to restore the autonomy of students who are competent adults and not legitimate subjects of paternalism when it comes to research participation.

Keywords
Human subject pools, Coercion, Psychology, Research, Undergraduates

Walker, R. (2020) The Opportunity Cost of Compulsory Research Participation: Why Psychology Departments Should Abolish Involuntary Participant Pools. Science and Engineering Ethics  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-020-00232-2

Digital Ethics in Higher Education: 2020 – BecauseReview (John O’Brien | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 21, 2020
 

New technologies, especially those relying on artificial intelligence or data analytics, are exciting but also present ethical challenges that deserve our attention and action. Higher education can and must lead the way.

Some news stories are hard to forget, like the one from a decade ago about a teenager who was texting while walking and fell into an open manhole on the street. Many headlines made fun of the scraped-up fifteen-year-old. But most of the news stories were focused on the people involved and thus didn’t see the bigger story about the place where humans and technology clash—or, in this case, crash.1

A lengthy piece, but a useful discussion on a very topical matter.  We have included a selection of related items.  Regardless of how far away the singularity is, smart (and bias laden) algorithms are already having a big impact on everyday life.

In 2020, I remember this story and see it as perhaps the perfect metaphor for the challenge of digital ethics. New technologies, many that depend on private data or emerging artificial intelligence (AI) applications, are being rolled out with enthusiastic abandon. These dazzling technologies capture our attention and inspire our imagination. Meanwhile, fascinated by these developments, we may soon see the ground drop out from under us. We need to find a way to pay attention to both the rapid technology innovations and the very real implications for the people who use them—or, as some would say, the people who are used by them.
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I believe we are at a crucial point in the evolution of technology. We must come to grips with digital ethics, which I define simply as “doing the right thing at the intersection of technology innovation and accepted social values.” This is a straightforward-enough definition; however, given the speed of technology change and the relativity of social values, even a simple definition may be trickier than it seems. For example, at the point where they clash, the desire for the latest data-powered apps and the desire for fiercely protected privacy reveal significant ethical fault lines. Which desire prevails? And while we contemplate this question, the development of new apps continues.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

A fascinating history of clinical trials from their beginnings in Babylon – Medium (Prof. Adrian Esterman | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 19, 2020
 

Clinical trials are required to test treatments for COVID-19. Take a quick trip over 2,000 years and discover how our current understanding of clinical trials was formed.

Clinical trials
Clinical trials are currently being undertaken to test treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. There are many different types of clinical trial design, from a simple before and after (measure something in patients, do an intervention like giving them a drug, then measure them again), to a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of all clinical trial designs.

Planning to give a talk about clinical trials and want to give it some historical context?  This is a great resource to use.

Here is a light-hearted history of how clinical trials developed over the last two thousand years, including the first recorded instances of control groups, the use of placebos and randomization. It will give you a better understanding of how clinical trials are designed.
600 BC Daniel and his kosher diet.
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Surprisingly, the first ever clinical trial is found in the Bible in Book one of Daniel and took place in Babylon. In 600 BC, some captive children of the Israeli royal family and nobility were taken into the King Nebuchadnezzar’s service in Babylon — among them were Daniel and three friends. Supposedly, these were golden young men — physically perfect, handsome, intelligent, knowledgeable and well qualified to serve in the king’s palace.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

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