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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) Safeguards for human studies can’t cope with big data – Nature (Nathaniel Raymond | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 19, 2019
 

Forty years on from a foundational report on how to protect people participating in research, cracks are showing, warns Nathaniel Raymond.

One of the primary documents aiming to protect human research participants was published in the US Federal Register 40 years ago this week. The Belmont Report was commissioned by Congress in the wake of the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study, in which researchers withheld treatment from African American men for years and observed how the disease caused blindness, heart disease, dementia and, in some cases, death.

This item obviously relates very specifically to the origins of the US human research ethics arrangements and the operation of IRBs, but the questions it poses are salient to Australasia.  The oft repeated statement: “But the information is already published and so is in the public domain and so is exempt”.  Is no longer helpful. We have provided a list of related items.

The Belmont Report lays out core principles now generally required for human research to be considered ethical. Although technically governing only US federally supported research, its influence reverberates across academia and industry globally. Before academics with US government funding can begin research involving humans, their institutional review boards (IRBs) must determine that the studies comply with regulation largely derived from a document that was written more than a decade before the World Wide Web and nearly a quarter of a century before Facebook.
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It is past time for a Belmont 2.0. We should not be asking those tasked with protecting human participants to single-handedly identify and contend with the implications of the digital revolution. Technological progress, including machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence, has altered the potential risks of research in ways that the authors of the first Belmont report could not have predicted. For example, Muslim cab drivers can be identified from patterns indicating that they stop to pray; the Ugandan government can try to identify gay men from their social-media habits; and researchers can monitor and influence individuals’ behaviour online without enrolling them in a study.
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The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education. A Discussion Paper (The University of Melbourne | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 11, 2019
 

Overview

This project brought together learning analytics experts from across Australia to explore key ethical issues relating to the development and use of learning analytics in higher education. The result of these discussions was a discussion paper that provides an outline of seven ethical principles as well as practical considerations associated with the use of learning analytics.

Objective

The ever-increasing availability of data about student activities in educational environments presents many opportunities for the improvement of learning and teaching through the use of learning analytics. In applying analytics, there is an obligation that educators and institutions ensure that data and analysis techniques are used appropriately. The range of ethical considerations that educational institutions must face is complex, and many institutions are still formulating their approach to ensuring ethical practice in this field.

The objective of this project was to draw together contemporary research and current practice in the area of ethics and learning analytics, and use this to produce a discussion paper that provides guidance to a range of higher education stakeholders including students, educators, researchers, and senior leaders.

Corrin, L., Kennedy, G., French, S., Buckingham Shum S., Kitto, K., Pardo, A., West, D., Mirriahi, N., & Colvin, C. (2019). The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education. A Discussion Paper. https://melbourne-cshe.unimelb.edu.au/research/research-projects/edutech/the-ethical-use-of-learning-analytics

(US/UK) Data suggest US, UK universities fall woefully short on reporting clinical trial results – Endpoints News (Natalie Grover | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 9, 2019
 

Clinical trial data are used by patients, doctors and policymakers to make informed choices about the benefits and safety of interventions — while the methods and results of all trials are crucial to the pace and direction of scientific progress. However, there is a large body of evidence that suggests that completed clinical trials are commonly left unreported, and educational institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom — arguably the two biggest regions that breed the bulk of medical innovation — have emerged as one of the key culprits guilty of these violations.

In the United States, Congress passed a law in 2007 requiring trial sponsors — including universities — to post the results of certain clinical trials on clinicaltrials.gov within a year of trial completion, and a decade later in January 2017 the rule was finalized. Since 2017, 40 leading US universities should have posted the results of 450 clinical trials — but over a third (31%) of those results are missing, according to an analysis by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) in partnership with non-profit research advocacy group TranspariMED.

The violators include some of the most active trial sponsors: For example the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which has only reported 77% of due trials, Mayo Clinic (42%), UC San Francisco (37%), New York University (21%), and Columbia University (17%).

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On “truly” understanding the risk – The Ethics Blog (Pär Segerdahl | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 28, 2019
 

Pär SegerdahlIt is a well-known psychological fact that people have great difficulties to understand probabilistic risks. What does it actually mean that the risk of developing breast cancer the next ten years is fifteen percent? In addition to the difficulties of understanding probabilities, mathematical expressions can cause a false appearance of exactitude and objectivity. It is often about uncertain evaluations, but expressed in seemingly definitive figures.

At our Monday seminar, Ulrik Kihlbom discussed another difficulty with understanding risk information. It can be difficult to understand not only the probabilities, but also what it is you risk experiencing. Sometimes, people face enormously complex choices, where the risks are high, but also the benefits. Perhaps you suffer from a serious disease from which you will die. However, there is a treatment, and it may work. It is just that the treatment has such severe side effects that you may die even from the treatment.

Ulrik Kihlbom interviewed physicians treating patients with leukemia. The doctors stated that patients often do not understand the risks of the treatment they are offered. The difficulty is not so much about understanding the risk of dying from the treatment. The patients understand that risk. However, the doctors said, no one who has not actually seen the side effects understand that the treatment can make you so incredibly ill.

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