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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The Politicisation of Ethics Review in New Zealand (Book: Martin Tolich and Barry Smith 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on February 14, 2016

Description: The National Women’s Hospital research scandal saw women being involved in medical research without their knowledge and without the opportunity to make a choice about their participation. The 1988 Cartwright Inquiry into this decades-long study established a template for ethics review in New Zealand. Ethics committees were subsequently established to independently evaluate the potential benefits as well as the risks of research.

This book traces the gradual undermining of the independence of ethics review in New Zealand and the politicisation of ethics committees between 1988 and 2014. There have been substantial changes in this review process brought about by government in response to other medical crises such as that which occurred in Gisborne in the late 1990s and then an “economic crisis” between 2008 and 2010 that involved international pharmaceutical companies.

This book explores the implications of these changes for a robust ethics review process across research environments in New Zealand, especially those affecting Maori. It includes recommendations aimed at enhancing independent ethics review, best practice, and providing adequate protection for all citizens.

Tolich, M. & Smith, B. (2015). The Politicisation of Ethics Review in New Zealand. Auckland: Dunmore. 241 pages.

Applying “Place” to Research Ethics and Cultural Competence/Humility Training (Papers: Dianne P Quigley 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on February 4, 2016

Abstract: Research ethics principles and regulations typically have been applied to the protection of individual human subjects. Yet, new paradigms of research that include the place-based community and cultural groups as partners or participants of environmental research interventions, in particular, require attention to place-based identities and geographical contexts. This paper argues the importance of respecting “place” within human subjects protections applied to communities and cultural groups as part of a critical need for research ethics and cultural competence training for graduate research students. These protections and benefits are extensions of the Belmont Principles and have been included in recent recommendations from research regulatory committees.

Keywords: Human subjects Beneficence Justice Group protections Cultural competence Community-based research Bioethical principles

Quigley D (2016) Applying “Place” to Research Ethics and Cultural Competence/Humility Training. Journal of Academic Ethics March 2016, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 19-33 (First online 13 January 2016, Accessed 5 February)

I’m Okay, You’re Okay?: Reflections on the Well-Being and Ethical Requirements of Researchers and Research Participants in Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork Interviews (Papers: Wendy Mitchell and Annie Irvine 2008)0

Posted by Admin in on February 3, 2016

Abstract: In this paper the authors present their reflections on a U.K. government–funded study exploring mental health and employment. Conducting research on a sensitive theme with a potentially vulnerable group gave renewed focus to some social research issues, including consent and control, rapport building, managing and responding to emotion, and offering appropriate longer term support. The researchers discuss their personal approaches and experiences (practical, methodological, ethical) during and after the fieldwork process. In the paper the authors highlight some of the challenges they faced and discuss how these were addressed and managed, sometimes differently, and not always resolved. They demonstrate the need for researchers to be aware of their “research footprint,” in particular the need to be reflexive and responsive to participants’ emotional well-being, and for funders and employers to also be sensitive to and mindful of the demands of social research, including impacts on researchers’ well-being.

Keywords: fieldwork practice, face-to-face interviews, participant well-being, researcher well-being, interview reciprocity, research footprint

Authors’ note:  We thank the 40 people who participated in interviews with us for the Mental Health and Employment study. Each one of them made a valuable contribution to project. We would also like to thank Simon Gilbody, Professor of Psychological Medicine and Health Services Research, for his advice and support for the project, and Anne Corden, Senior Research Fellow, for constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the research funding body (The Department for Work and Pensions).

Mitchell W & Irvine A (2008) I’m Okay, You’re Okay?: Reflections on the Well-Being and Ethical Requirements of Researchers and Research Participants in Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork Interviews. International Journal of Qualitative Methods December 2008 vol. 7 no. 4 31-44
ResearchGate:… (accessed Feb 4, 2016).
Publisher (Open Access):

No one’s discussing the elephant in the room: contemplating questions of research impact and benefit in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian health research (Papers: Roxanne Bainbridge et al 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on January 29, 2016


There remains a concern that Indigenous Australians have been over-researched without corresponding improvements in their health; this trend is applicable to most Indigenous populations globally. This debate article has a dual purpose: 1) to open a frank conversation about the value of research to Indigenous Australian populations; and 2) to stimulate ways of thinking about potential resolutions to the lack of progress made in the Indigenous research benefit debate.

Capturing the meaning of research benefit takes the form of ethical value-oriented methodological considerations in the decision-making processes of Indigenous research endeavours. Because research practices come from Western knowledge bases, attaining such positions in research means reconciling both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to produce new methodologies that guide planning, evaluating and monitoring of research practices as necessary. Increasingly, more sophisticated performance measures have been implemented to ensure academic impact and benefits are captured. Assessing societal and other non-academic impacts and benefits however, has not been accorded corresponding attention. Research reform has only focussed on research translation in more recent years. The research impact debate must take account of the various standards of accountability (to whom), impact priorities (for whom), positive and negative impacts, and biases that operate in describing impact and measuring benefit.

A perennial question in Indigenous research discourse is whether the abundance of research conducted; purportedly to improve health, is justified and benefits Indigenous people in ways that are meaningful and valued by them. Different research stakeholders have different conceptions of the value and nature of research, its conduct, what it should achieve and the kinds of benefits expected. We need to work collaboratively and listen more closely to the voice of Indigenous Australians to better understand, demonstrate and measure health research benefits. The authors conclude that as an imperative, a systematic benefit assessment strategy that includes identification of research priorities and planning, monitoring and evaluation components needs to be developed and implemented across research projects. In Indigenous health research, this will often mean adopting a benefit-led approach by changing the way research is done and preferencing alternative research methodologies. As a point of departure to improving impact and reaching mutually beneficial outcomes for researchers and partners in Indigenous health research, we need to routinise the assessment of benefit from outset of research as one of the standards toward which we work.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Indigenous Health Research benefit Research impact Research translation

Bainbridge R, Tsey K, McCalman J, Kinchin I, Saunders V, Watkin Lui F, Cadet-James Y, Miller A and Lawson K (2015) No one’s discussing the elephant in the room: contemplating questions of research impact and benefit in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian health research. BMC Public Health DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-2052-3. Available at: (accessed 30 January 2015).