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Why research ethics should add retrospective review (Papers: Angus Dawson, et al | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 26, 2019
 

Abstract
Research ethics is an integral part of research, especially that involving human subjects. However, concerns have been expressed that research ethics has come to be seen as a procedural concern focused on a few well-established ethical issues that researchers need to address to obtain ethical approval to begin their research. While such prospective review of research is important, we argue that it is not sufficient to address all aspects of research ethics. We propose retrospective review as an important complement to prospective review. We offer two arguments to support our claim that prospective review is insufficient. First, as currently practiced, research ethics has become for some a ‘tick box’ exercise to get over the ‘hurdle’ of ethics approval. This fails to capture much of what is important in ethics and does not promote careful reflection on the ethical issues involved. Second, the current approach tends to be rules-based and we argue that research ethics should go beyond this to develop people’s capacity to be sensitive to the relevant moral features of their research, their ethical decision-making skills and their integrity. Retrospective review of a project’s ethical issues, and how they were addressed, could help to achieve those aims better. We believe that a broad range of stakeholders should be involved in such retrospective review, including representatives of ethics committees, participating communities and those involved in the research. All stakeholders could then learn from others’ perspectives and experiences. An open and transparent assessment of research could help to promote trust and understanding between stakeholders, as well as identifying areas of agreement and disagreement and how these can be built upon or addressed. Retrospective review also has the potential to promote critical reflection on ethics and help to develop ethical sensitivity and integrity within the research team. Demonstrating this would take empirical evidence and we suggest that any such initiatives should be accompanied by research into their effectiveness. Our article concludes with a discussion of some possible objections to our proposal, and an invitation to further debate and discussion.

Dawson, A., Lignou, S., Siriwardhana, C. and O’Mathúna, D.P. (2019) Why research ethics should add retrospective review. BMC Medical Ethics 20: 68
Publisher (Open Access): https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12910-019-0399-1

Scientists ‘may have crossed ethical line’ in growing human brains – The Guardian (Ian Sample | )0

Posted by Admin in on October 22, 2019
 

Debate needed over research with ‘potential for something to suffer’, neuroscientists say

Neuroscientists may have crossed an “ethical rubicon” by growing lumps of human brain in the lab, and in some cases transplanting the tissue into animals, researchers warn.

The creation of mini-brains or brain “organoids” has become one of the hottest fields in modern neuroscience. The blobs of tissue are made from stem cells and, while they are only the size of a pea, some have developed spontaneous brain waves, similar to those seen in premature babies.

Many scientists believe that organoids have the potential to transform medicine by allowing them to probe the living brain like never before. But the work is controversial because it is unclear where it may cross the line into human experimentation.

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Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal (Papers: Anthony J Pelosi | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2019
 

Abstract
During the 1980s and 1990s, Hans J Eysenck conducted a programme of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of fatal diseases in collaboration with one of his protégés, Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. This led to what must be the most astonishing series of findings ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with effect sizes that have never otherwise been encounterered in biomedical research. This article outlines just some of these reported findings and signposts readers to extremely serious scientific and ethical criticisms that were published almost three decades ago. Confidential internal documents that have become available as a result of litigation against tobacco companies provide additional insights into this work. It is suggested that this research programme has led to one of the worst scientific scandals of all time. A call is made for a long overdue formal inquiry.

Keywords
cancer epidemiology, personality and cancer, personality and heart disease, research ethics, research misconduct

Pelosi, A. J. (2019). Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal. Journal of Health Psychology, 24(4), 421–439. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318822045
Publisher (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1359105318822045

Work of renowned UK psychologist Hans Eysenck ruled ‘unsafe’ – The Guardian (Sarah Boseley | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2019
 

Eysenck’s ‘cancer-prone’ personality theory had come under criticism for decades

The work of one of the most famous and influential British psychologists of all time, Hans Eysenck, is under a cloud following an investigation by King’s College London, which has found 26 of his published papers “unsafe”.

King’s says the results and conclusions of the papers “were not considered scientifically rigorous” by its committee of inquiry. Prof Sir Robert Lechler, the provost at King’s, has contacted the editors of the 11 journals where the papers appeared, recommending they should be retracted.

Eysenck, who died in 1997, published prolifically and wrote many well-known books, holding controversial views on a number of subjects, including race and IQ. The investigation centred on research that claimed personality played a bigger part in people’s chances of dying from cancer or heart disease than smoking.

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