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

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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Political Research and Human Research Ethics Committees (Papers: Anthony J. Langlois | 2011)0

Posted by Admin in on February 5, 2019

Human Research Ethics Committees have become an established part of the institutional structure of research in the humanities and social sciences over the last two decades in Australia, a development which many in the political disciplines have regarded with ambiguity or outright hostility. My purpose is to consider some of the particular problems which arise for the political disciplines from the form of research ethics review which has become institutionalised in Australia, and to suggest some reforms which would significantly ameliorate these problems.

My argument is that the conceptual framework on which research ethics review is built, and consequently the institutional model by which ethical review is applied within Australian universities is not appropriate to some forms of political research, with serious detrimental consequences. These consequences may include, but are not limited to: research findings being potentially skewed; research going underground or being undertaken in ways which diverge from what has been approved by committees; self censorship; disengagement with institutional research governance procedures; the generation of risk for researchers who are operating outside institutional approvals because they feel they “have to”; the construction of unnecessary prejudice against the legitimate aims of research ethics review procedures; and, finally, and most disturbingly, important and legitimate research not being undertaken.

Raise the issue of research ethics with a politics researcher in the hallways of any Australian university, and you are likely to meet with a litany of complaints which match in some measure or another my list above. Being a politics academic and – until recently -­‐ the chair of a university wide human research ethics committee, has been an interesting experience; one which has led me to offer the following analysis and suggestions for reform.

Anthony J. Langlois (2011) Political Research and Human Research Ethics Committees. Australian Journal of Political Science, 46:1, 141-156, DOI: 10.1080/10361146.2010.544287

Constructive Voices: Panel discussion about institutional implementation of the National Statement (2007 updated 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on November 24, 2018

On 22nd of november, AHRECS hosted its second Constructive Voices panel. These panels aim to create an opportunity for open discussion about human research ethics and research integrity among researchers, policymakers, research managers, research ethics reviewers and other stakeholders.

The first panel featured:

  • Jeremy Kenner, Expert Advisor – Ethics at NHMRC
  • Wendy Rogers, Chair NSWG, Macquarie University
  • Pamela Henry, Chair ECU HREC
  • Gary Allen, Co-Chair Chapter 3.1 drafting committeer,  Senior Consultant, AHRECS

A video-recording of the discussion will be available for streaming for 90 days for free from the here. It will then be moved to the AHRECS subscribers’ area.

By becoming a subscriber (from USD1/month) you will not only gain access to a growing library of high-quality resources (two or more items are added every month), but you will also be supporting events like the Constructive Voices panel discussions. A subscription of USD15/month provides access to all the materials.

We are also happy to hear ideas for panels and speakers for 2019. We agree that there is a need for communities of practice to develop further around research ethics. We recognise that AHRECS could do more to stimulate this and we would like to find partners who would resource this.

AHRECS has been working with Australian universities and other research institutions to respond to the recent changes to the National Statement and the new Australian Code. You can find out more about the services offered by AHRECS at

Regards from Mark, Gary and Colin on behalf of the AHRECS team

Items left by the speakers

Mark’s welcome and intro slides


Jeremy’s presentation slides

Jeremy’s full version slides

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007 Updated 2018)


Wendy’s presentation


Pamela’s presentation


Gary’s slides

Recording of event

Contextualising Merit and Integrity within Human Research (Papers: Ian Pieper and Colin Thomson | 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on October 1, 2018

The first consideration of any Australian Human Research Ethics Committee should be to satisfy itself that the project before them is worth undertaking. If the project does not add to the body of knowledge, if it does not improve social welfare or individual wellbeing then the use of human participants, their tissue or their data must be questioned. Sometimes, however, committees are criticised for appearing to adopt the role of scientific review committees. The intent of this paper is to provide researchers with an understanding of the ethical importance of demonstrating the merit of their research project and to help them develop protocols that show ethics committees that adequate attention has been paid to this central tenet in dealing ethically with human research participants. Any person proposing human research must be prepared to show that it is worthwhile. This paper will clarify the relationship between research merit and integrity, research ethics and the responsibilities of human research ethics committees.

Human Research, National Statement, Australian Code, Integrity, Article

Pieper, I. & Thomson, C.J.H. (2011) Contextualising Merit and Integrity within Human Research, Monash Bioethics Review  29: 39.

Justice in Human Research Ethics (Papers: Ian Pieper and Colin Thomson | 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on October 1, 2018

One of the core values to be applied by a body reviewing the ethics of human research is justice. The inclusion of justice as a requirement in the ethical review of human research is relatively recent and its utility had been largely unexamined until debates arose about the conduct of international biomedical research in the late 1990s. The subsequent amendment of authoritative documents in ways that appeared to shift the meaning of conceptions of justice generated a great deal of controversy. Another difficulty has been that both the theory and the substance of justice that are applied by researchers or reviewers can be frequently seen to be subjective. Both the concept of justice — whether distributive or commutative — and what counts as a just distribution or exchange — are given different weight and meanings by different people.

In this paper, the origins and more recent debates about the requirement to consider justice as a criterion in the ethical review of human research are traced, relevant conceptions of justice are distinguished, and the manner in which they can be applied meaningfully in the ethical review of all human research is identified.

We also explain the way that these concepts are articulated in, and the intent and function of, specific paragraphs of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). The National Statement identifies a number of issues that should be considered when a human research ethics committee is reviewing the justice aspects of an application. We provide guidance to researchers as to how they can show that there is a fair distribution of burdens and benefits in the participant experience and the research outcomes. We also provide practical guidance to researchers on how to think through issues of justice so that they can demonstrate that the design of their research projects meets this ethical requirement.

Human Research, National Statement, Human Research Ethics, Distributive Justice

Pieper, I. & Thomson, C.J.H. (2013) Justice in Human Research Ethics. Monash Bioethics Review (2013) 31: 99.