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

Resource Library

Research Ethics MonthlyAbout Us


Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The Ethics Trapeze (Papers: Will C. van den Hoonaard 2006)0

Posted by Admin in on March 22, 2016

Abstract: This article constitutes the introduction to a collection of essays in volume 4 of JAE, representing an extremely diverse collection of pieces written by authors from equally diverse backgrounds with the purpose of sharing the theoretical and practical issues related to research-ethics, or on ethics more generally. All of the articles are fresh contributions to the research-ethics review debate. The 17 authors of the 12 articles come from the United States, South Africa, and Canada. Their disciplinary or research backgrounds include Aboriginal literatures, English literature, English-as-a Second-Language pedagogy, French literature, history, language and literacy, liberal arts, and linguistics – all fields in the cluster of the humanities. The volume also has contributions from social work, sociology, and speech pathology. The world of research-ethics review has become so pervasive that it invades all areas of research: it does not respect disciplinary boundaries. The articles in this special volume represent, in short, a microscope of the research world.

Key words: ethics in research humanities and ethics research-ethics review

van den Hoonaard, Will C (2006) The Ethics Trapeze. Journal of Academic Ethics. 4(1) pp 1-10

Human research ethics committees: Beyond critique to participation (Papers: Simon Batterbury 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on March 21, 2016

Excerpt: There is frequent criticism by social scientists of Human Research Ethics Committees (HREC). They are accused of ‘ethics creep’, having expanded from their earliest focus in the medical and veterinary sciences following a 1974 ruling in the USA (1985 in Australia) (Haggerty 2004; Dyer and Demeritt 2009). Ethics committees now review any university research involving human ‘subjects’ (Borenstein 2008). Dissatisfaction about the practice of ethics review is especially strong in anthropology, where it is often hard to specify in advance what will be done in a given project and participants are often already known to the researcher (Cowlishaw 2013). Ethnography’s ‘. . .immersive and exploratory nature’ is difficult to predict or constrain in advance of fieldwork (Chenhall et al. 2011: 17). Researchers dislike being forced by their institutions, which may be running scared of lawsuits or costly insurance claims for projects-gone-wrong, to justify and specify their work (Cowlishaw 2013).

Batterbury S (2014) Human research ethics committees: Beyond critique to participation. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 25 (3): 385-386
Open access:

Rethinking Vulnerability and Research: Defining the Need for a Post-Research Ethics Audit (Papers: Chesmal Siriwardhana 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on March 16, 2016

Abstract: Vulnerability of research populations is a fundamental area of interest and debate in bioethics. Based on mental health research in a humanitarian setting context, I explore vulnerability-related issues and developing enhanced protective practices. Motivated by experience from mental health research among forced migrants, and faced with a lack of guidance in the sharing of ethical lessons, I explore the concept of post-research ethics audit as a mechanism for reflection that researchers working with vulnerable populations can use. Presently, a coherent post-research strategy to critically examine the quality of ethical frameworks, debrief researcher experience and explore ethical challenges in research implementation is unavailable. The more established clinical audit process can be a model for the post-research ethics audit due to conceptual similarities in improving current practices by comparing the ideal versus the real scenario and measuring the effect of implementing changes. The proposed strategy presents a feasible way of identifying discrepancies between existing guidance and actual on-field implementation of research. Such a concept, if supported by empirical evidence based on its applicability, adaptability and feasibility, can become a platform to identify participant community needs, perceive community-specific ethical challenges, identify gaps in ethical oversight, and examine researcher integrity and potential misconduct. However, such activity needs to be researcher- and ethics committee-friendly, easily adaptable and implementable within existing ethical oversight frameworks, to enhance researcher-driven ethical practices and promote participant involvement.

Siriwardhana C (2015) Rethinking Vulnerability and Research: Defining the Need for a Post-Research Ethics Audit. Asian Bioethics Review  7(2) 188-200 10.1353/asb.2015.0015
Project Muse:

A national survey of experiences with ethics review (Papers: Lisa Wynn et al 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on March 8, 2016

Abstract: In 1985 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) made its grants for medical research conditional on the receiving institution submitting all human research, whether or not medical and whether or not funded by the NHMRC, for ethics review (NHMRC 2007). However, this NHMRC-induced extension of ethics review to non-medical projects retained the established conceptualisation of research as health and clinical. Over the next two decades, institutions expanded the jurisdiction of their ethics review committees to include methods like ethnography and oral history.

Wynn, L. L., Israel, M., Thomson, C., White, K. L. & Carey-White, L. (2014). A national survey of experiences with ethics review. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 25 (3), 375-377.