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Situational Ethics: Re-thinking Approaches to Formal Ethics Requirements for Human-Computer Interaction (Papers: Cosmin Munteanu et al)0

Posted by Admin in on August 9, 2016
 

Most Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) researchers are accustomed to the process of formal ethics review for their evaluation or field trial protocol. Although this process varies by country, the underlying principles are universal. While this process is often a formality, for field research or lab-based 

This great paper uses real case studies to reflect on situational ethics in HCI research, but also issues that commonly come up in qualitative research, field studies and participant directed designs (including consent, privacy, what potential participants care about, and variations to accommodate the wishes of potential participants.

 studies with vulnerable users, formal ethics requirements can be challenging to navigate — a common occurrence in the social sciences; yet, in many cases, foreign to HCI researchers. Nevertheless, with the increase in new areas of research such as mobile technologies for marginalized populations or assistive technologies, this is a current reality. In this paper we present our experiences and challenges in conducting several studies that evaluate interactive systems in difficult settings, from the perspective of the ethics process. Based on these, we draft recommendations for mitigating the effect of such challenges to the ethical conduct of research. We then issue a call for interaction researchers, together with policy makers, to refine existing ethics guidelines and protocols in order to more accurately capture the particularities of such field-based evaluations, qualitative studies, challenging lab-based evaluations, and ethnographic observations.

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Keywords: Ethics; Research protocol; Field studies; Situational ethics; Vulnerable populations.

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Munteanu C, Molyneaux H, Moncur W, Romero M, O’Donnell S and Vine J (2015) Situational Ethics: Re-thinking Approaches to Formal Ethics Requirements for Human-Computer Interaction at the 2nd 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Proceedings pp 105-114 ACM New York, NY, USA ©2015  ISBN: 978-1-4503-3145-6 doi>10.1145/2702123.2702481.
ResearchGate: www.researchgate.net/publication/273089965_Situational_Ethics…
Publisher: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2702481

Doctor who blew whistle on defunded study speaks – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook July 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on July 31, 2016
 

t’s rare for the U.S. government to revoke grants – but it happened recently, according to a report this week by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR). As the report notes, in March the government revoked $914,000 in funding awarded to Susan Harkema at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, after discovering problems with a study that examined whether the muscle relaxant baclofen helps paralyzed patients move on treadmills. (The university has denied it lost any government funding; a representative of Louisville Public Media, which houses the KyCIR, is standing by the story.) All of this has not been news to Steve Williams, a physician now based at the University of Washington, who has been raising questions about the study for years.

Retraction Watch: What was your role in the study in question, that’s now been defunded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILIRR)?

Steve Williams: I was the study physician who evaluated patients for enrollment.

Read the rest of the interview

Embedding responsible conduct in learning and research into an Australian undergraduate curriculum (Papers: Lynette B Fernandes 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on July 25, 2016
 

Abstract: Responsible conduct in learning and research (RCLR) was progressively introduced into the pharmacology curriculum for undergraduate science students at The University of Western Australia. In the second year of this undergraduate curriculum, a lecture introduces students to issues such as the use of animals in teaching and responsible conduct of research. Third year student groups deliver presentations on topics including scientific integrity and the use of human subjects in research. Academic and research staff attending these presentations provide feedback and participate in discussions. Students enrolled in an optional capstone Honours year complete an online course on the responsible conduct of research and participate in an interactive movie. Once RCLR became established in the curriculum, a survey of Likert-scaled and open-ended questions examined student and staff perceptions. Data were expressed as Approval (% of responses represented by Strongly Agree and Agree). RCLR was found to be relevant to the study of pharmacology (69-100% Approval), important for one’s future career (62-100% Approval), and stimulated further interest in this area (32-75% Approval). Free entry comments demonstrated the value of RCLR and constructive suggestions for improvement have now been incorporated. RCLR modules were found to be a valuable addition to the pharmacology undergraduate curriculum. This approach may be used to incorporate ethics into any science undergraduate curriculum, with the use of discipline-specific topics. © 2016 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2016.

KEYWORDS: ethics education; ethics in science and scientific research; integration of research into undergraduate teaching; pharmacology; responsible conduct

Fernandes LB (2016) Embedding responsible conduct in learning and research into an Australian undergraduate curriculum. Biochemistry Molecular Biology Education. doi: 10.1002/bmb.20990
Publisher: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bmb.20990.

Are Research Ethics Obsolete In The Era Of Big Data? (Papers: June 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on July 14, 2016
 

This story began simply enough as I was writing this past May about the OkCupid data release. The researchers involved in the study had mass downloaded the profiles of more than 70,000 OkCupid users, republishing for the world the most intimate details of these users right down to their wildest sexual

This thought provoking and troubling discussion piece brings together recent commentary about the OkCupid, Ashley Maddison and Emotional Contagion cases, as well as the research use of data dumps by whitleblowers and hackers. It raises important ethical questions of researchers, research ethics reviewers and regulators. Truly sobering stuff.

 fantasies. In their now-unavailable paper the authors had argued that “Some may object to the ethics of gathering and releasing this data. However, all the data found in the dataset are or were already publicly available, so releasing this dataset merely presents it in a more useful form.” In a now-famous tweet, the lead author said that no effort had been put into anonymizing the data because “[The] Data is already public.”

The academic community reacted swiftly to the data release, condemning it as a stark violation of research ethics. Many cited the American Psychological Associations’ Code of Conduct which places strong limitations on when informed consent can be ignored and general human subjects protections, suggesting that if only the researchers had gone through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval process, the study would have been stopped before it began. Yet, this suggests that universities and their IRBs have finally caught up to the digital “big data” era and would have actually declined this study if it had been brought before them for review.

For those unfamiliar with how academic research works, some countries like the United States require most research institutions like universities receiving federal funds to have what is called an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that essentially is a panel of campus experts who review proposed research and determine whether any potential ethical concerns it might pose are mitigated by the methodology or nature of the specific project. These IRBs largely follow the so-called federal Common Rule. Before conducting a given study, a researcher submits it to the IRB board at her university and only after the IRB approves the research may the study actually begin. If the IRB declines to authorize the study, the researcher must work with the IRB to alter its nature or methods to address the IRB’s concerns, but if the researcher is unable to meet the IRB’s demands then the research, in theory, must not be conducted.

Leetaru K (2016, 17 June) Are Research Ethics Obsolete In The Era Of Big Data? Forbes/Tech
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/06/17/are-research-ethics-obsolete-in-the-era-of-big-data/#1a083ad31cb9

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