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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Disaster-zone research needs a code of conduct – Nature (JC Gaillard & Lori Peek | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 10, 2019
 

Study the effects of earthquakes, floods and other natural hazards with sensitivity to ethical dilemmas and power imbalances.

A magnitude-7.0 earthquake rocked Anchorage, Alaska, in late November 2018. Roads buckled and chimneys tumbled from rooftops. Business operations were disrupted. Schools were damaged across the district. This was the largest earthquake to shake the region in a generation, and there was much to learn. What was the state of the infrastructure? Might further quakes occur? How did people respond? Teams of scientists and engineers from across the United States mobilized to conduct field reconnaissance in partnership with local researchers and practitioners. These efforts were coordinated through the clearing house set up by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in Oakland, California, which provided daily in-person and online briefings, as well as a web portal for sharing data.

This discussion is especially relevant at the moment given the bushfires/megafires raging in Australia (and California) and the volcano eruption on White Island, New Zealand.  Our sincere best wishes and hopes to anyone affected by these awful disasters.

But researchers are not always so welcome in disaster zones. After the deadly Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004, hundreds of academics from countries including Japan, Russia, France and the United States rushed to the region to collect perishable data. This influx of foreign scientists angered and fatigued some locals; many declined researchers’ requests for interviews. The former governor of Aceh province, Indonesia, where more than 128,000 people died, described foreign researchers as “guerrillas applying hit-and-run tactics”1. Yet research on tsunami propagation and people’s response to the event has led to improved warnings and emergency-response plans.
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When, on 28 September 2018, an earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, dozens of researchers found themselves unable to enter the country2. Indonesian law now requires foreign scientists to obtain a special visa before they can begin research. Data-collection protocols must be submitted to the government in advance and projects must have an Indonesian partner. Violators could face criminal charges and even prison.
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What’s the Harm? The Coverage of Ethics and Harm Avoidance in Research Methods Textbooks (Papers: Shane Dixon and Linda Quirke | June 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on December 3, 2019
 

Abstract
Methods textbooks play a role in socializing a new generation of researchers about ethical research. How do undergraduate social research methods textbooks portray harm, its prevalence, and ways to mitigate harm to participants? We conducted a content analysis of ethics chapters in the 18 highest-selling undergraduate textbooks used in sociology research methods courses in the United States and Canada in 2013. We found that experiments are portrayed as the research design most likely to harm participants. Textbooks overwhelmingly referred to high-profile, well-known examples of harmful research. Chapters primarily characterize participants as at risk for psychological and physical harm. Textbooks engage in detailed discussions of how to avoid harm; informed consent figures prominently as an essential way to mitigate risk of harm. We conclude that textbooks promote a procedural rather than nuanced approach to ethics and that content in ethics chapters is out of step with scholarly research in research ethics.

Keywords
ethics, research methods, textbooks, harm, participants

Dixon, S., & Quirke, L. (2018). What’s the Harm? The Coverage of Ethics and Harm Avoidance in Research Methods Textbooks. Teaching Sociology, 46(1), 12–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/0092055X17711230
Publisher (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0092055X17711230

The female problem: how male bias in medical trials ruined women’s health – The Guardian (Gabrielle Jackson | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 14, 2019
 

Centuries of female exclusion has meant women’s diseases are often missed, misdiagnosed or remain a total mystery

From the earliest days of medicine, women have been considered inferior versions of men. In On the Generation of Animals, the Greek philosopher Aristotle characterised a female as a mutilated male, and this belief has persisted in western medical culture.

The historical, and continued, exclusion of women from clinical trials is a significant problem that really hasn’t been addressed by drives by granting bodies.  Similar exclusion tends to be the experience of people whose first language isn’t English, people living with a disability and First Nation peoples. Researchers and research ethics review bodies can play an important role in addressing this major problem.

“For much of documented history, women have been excluded from medical and science knowledge production, so essentially we’ve ended up with a healthcare system, among other things in society, that has been made by men for men,” Dr Kate Young, a public health researcher at Monash University in Australia, tells me.
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Young’s research has uncovered how doctors fill knowledge gaps with hysteria narratives. This is particularly prevalent when women keep returning to the doctor, stubbornly refusing to be saved.
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“The historical hysteria discourse was most often endorsed when discussing ‘difficult’ women, referring to those for whom treatment was not helpful or who held a perception of their disease alternative to their clinician,” Young wrote in a research paper published in the journal Feminism & Psychology.

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Ethical research — the long and bumpy road from shirked to shared – Nature (Sarah Franklin | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 10, 2019
 

From all too scarce, to professionalized, the ethics of research is now everybody’s business, argues Sarah Franklin in the sixth essay in a series on how the past 150 years have shaped science, marking Nature’s anniversary.

In the autumn of 1869, Charles Darwin was hard at work revising the fifth edition of On The Origin of Species and drafting his next book, The Descent of Man, to be published in 1871. As he finished chapters, Darwin sent them to his daughter, Henrietta, to edit — hoping she could help to head off the hostile responses to his debut, including objections to the implication that morality and ethics could have no basis in nature, because nature had no purpose.

That same year, Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton published Hereditary Genius, a book that recast natural selection as a question of social planning1. Galton argued that human abilities were differentially inherited, and introduced a statistical methodology to aid “improvement of the race”. Later, he coined the term ‘eugenics’ to advocate selective reproduction through application of the breeder’s guiding hand.

Darwin’s transformative theory inspired modern biology; Galton’s attempt to equate selection and social reform spawned eugenics. The ethical dilemmas engendered by these two late-nineteenth-century visions of biological control proliferate still. And, as older quandaries die out, they are replaced by more vigorous descendants. That there has never been a border between ethics and biology remains as apparent today as it was 150 years ago. The difference is that many of the issues, such as the remodelling of future generations or the surveillance of personal data, have become as everyday as they are vast in their implications. To work out how to move forward, it is worth looking at how we got here.

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