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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 23, 2018

The Australian Code is the Australian national reference for research integrity. The document was issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council and Universities Australia.

The Australian Code discusses eight core principles, 13 institutional responsibilities and 16 research responsibilities. At launch it was complemented by the Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Code, 2018 (the Investigation Guide). Two more guides are expected by the end   of 2018, with the remaining guides expected early 2019.

The eight-page 2018 version is a significant change from the 2007 version (which was 39 pages). It represents a movement away from detailed strict standards on research integrity matters to general principles that must inform institutional policies, processes and resources.

‘Telling our story… Creating our own history’: caregivers’ reasons for participating in an Australian longitudinal study of Indigenous children (Papers: Katherine Ann Thurber, et al | 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 20, 2018

Improving the wellbeing of Indigenous populations is an international priority. Robust research conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is key to developing programs and policies to improve health and wellbeing. This paper aims to quantify the extent of participation in a national longitudinal study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) children, and to understand the reasons why caregivers participate in the study.

This mixed methods study uses data from Wave 6 of Footprints in Time, the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. We conducted descriptive analysis of quantitative variables to characterise the sample and retention rates. We applied conventional content analysis to 160 caregivers’ open-ended responses to the question, ‘Why do you stay in the study?’, identifying themes and overarching meta-themes.

The study has maintained a high retention rate, with 70.4% (n = 1239/1671) of the baseline sample participating in the study’s 6th wave. We identified seven themes related to why participants stay in the study: telling our story, community benefit, satisfaction, tracking Study Child’s progress, study processes, receiving study gifts, and valuing what the study stands for. These related to two meta-themes: reciprocity, and trust and connection. Caregivers reported that participation was associated with benefits for their family and community as well as for the study. They identified specific features of the Footprints in Time study design that built and maintained trust and connection between participants and the study.

Our findings support the assertion that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want to be involved in research when it is done ‘the right way’. Footprints in Time has successfully recruited and retained the current-largest cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia through the use of participatory research methodologies, suggesting effective study implementation and processes. Participants indicated ongoing commitment to the study resulting from perceptions of reciprocity and development of trust in the study. Footprints in Time can serve as a successful model of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, to promote good research practice and provides lessons for research with other Indigenous populations.

Indigenous population, Longitudinal studies, Research design, Trust, Ethics, Motivation

Thurber, K. A., et al. (2018). “‘Telling our story… Creating our own history’: caregivers’ reasons for participating in an Australian longitudinal study of Indigenous children.” International Journal for Equity in Health 17(1): 143.
Publisher (Open Access):

Was it Ethical for Dropbox to Share Customer Data with Scientists? – Wired (Emily Dreyfuss | July 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 18, 2018

FOR THE PAST two years, researchers at Northwestern University have been analyzing the habits of tens of thousands of scientists—using Dropbox. Looking at data about academics’ folder-sharing habits, they found the most successful scientists share some collaboration behaviors in common. And on Friday, they published their results in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

Another ‘good’ story about digital data, privacy and consent. If we were on the reviewing research ethics committee we would have lots of questions about anonymisation. Especially with regard to identifying information within text and that’s without even thinking about identification by inference and internal identification (even if we are only talking about the research team having access to the data).  And then there’s IP…

The study quickly attracted the notice of academics—but not for the reason Dropbox and the researchers had hoped. One sentence in particular caught readers’ attention: “Dropbox gave us access to project-folder-related data, which we aggregated and anonymized, for all the scientists using its platform over the period from May 2015 to May 2017—a group that represented 1,000 universities.” Written by Northwestern University Institute on Complex Systems professors Adam Pah and Brian Uzzi and Dropbox Manager of Enterprise Insights Rebecca Hinds, that wording suggested Dropbox had handed over personally identifiable information on hundreds of thousands of customers.
By Tuesday, Harvard Business Review had corrected that part of the article to say the data was anonymized and aggregated prior to being given to the researchers. “Before providing any Dropbox users’ data to the researchers, Dropbox permanently anonymized the data by rendering any identifying user information unreadable, including individual emails and shared folder IDs,” a Dropbox spokesperson told WIRED. But while Dropbox’s more than half a billion users can rest easy that their de-anonymized data isn’t readily shared with researchers, the only consent Dropbox obtained from customers involved in the study was their agreement to its privacy policy and terms of service, according to representatives for Dropbox.

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Guest Post: What a new Publons Report on Peer Review Says About Diversity, and More – Scholarly Kitchen (Tom Culley, et al | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 17, 2018

Editor’s Note: This third installment of posts for Peer Review Week is a guest post from Tom Culley and the team at Publons.

For centuries academic journals have brought modern research from around the globe into regularly published pages for consumption. At the heart of this system is peer review — the process we rely on to ensure the quality and integrity of scholarly communication. But as the research market grows exponentially the peer review system is feeling the strain.

Last week (10-15 September 2018) was peer review week and the theme was diversity in peer review.  This item refers to work that highlights we aren’t there yet. In addition to including links to a few other items from last week, we’ve linked to a few other items about this essential component of quality research.

How do we know this? Publons Global State of Peer Review Report brings a new level of transparency to the state of peer review, revealing the numbers behind who’s doing it, how well they’re doing it, and how efficient the process really is. The timing is right, as the community comes together to celebrate the fourth installment of Peer Review Week, focusing on the theme of Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review.
Released on September 7th, the report combines novel results of a global survey alongside data from PublonsScholarOne, and Web of Science. For the survey, Publons reached out to researchers via the Publons database of over 400,000 reviewers, and 1 million authors indexed in Web of Science. Of the more than 11,000 researchers who completed the survey, 69% were working at a university or college, 69% were men, and over 35% had 15 years or more experience writing and reviewing scholarly articles. The majority of reviewers came from Europe (37% — including the UK) and 13% worked in the areas of Clinical Medicine or Engineering respectively.*

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