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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Big Data, Little Individual: Considering the Human Side of Big Data (Michael N. Karim et al 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on April 5, 2016

Abstract: Guzzo, Fink, King, Tonidandel, and Landis (2015) provide a clear overview of the implications of conducting research using big data. One element we believe was overlooked, however, was an individual-level perspective on big data; that is, what impact does this sort of data collection have on the individuals being studied? As psychologists, the ethics and impact of big data collection from workers should be at the forefront of our minds. In this reply, we use years of research on electronic monitoring and tracking to provide evidence that an individual-level perspective is an essential part of the discussion surrounding industrial–organizational psychology and big data. Specifically, we examine electronic performance monitoring (EPM) literature to identify how the widespread, pervasive collection of employee data affects employees’ attitudes and behaviors.

Karim M N, Willford J C and Behrend T S (2015). Big Data, Little Individual: Considering the Human Side of Big Data. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8(04), pp 527-533. doi:10.1017/iop.2015.78.

Challenges in the Ethical Review of Peer Support Interventions (Papers: David Simmons et al 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on April 4, 2016


Ethical review processes have become increasingly complex. We have examined how 8 collaborating diabetes peer-support clinical trials were assessed by ethics committees.

The ethical reviews from the 8 peer-support studies were collated and subjected to a thematic analysis. We mapped the recommendations of local Institutional Review Boards and ethics committees onto the “4+1 ethical framework” (autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice, along with concern for their scope of application).

Ethics committees did not consistently focus on tasks within the 4+1 framework: many conducted reviews of scientific, organizational, and administrative activities. Of the 20 themes identified across the ethical reviews, only 4 fell within the scope of the 4+1 framework. Variation in processes and requirements for ethics committees were particularly evident between study countries. Some of the consent processes mandated by ethical review boards were disproportionate for peer support, increased participant burden, and reduced the practicality of testing an ethical intervention. Across the 8 studies, ethics committees’ reviews included the required elements to ensure participant safety; however, they created a range of hurdles that in some cases delayed the research and required consent processes that could hinder the spontaneity and/or empathy of peer support.

Ethics committees should avoid repeating the work of other trusted agencies and consider the ethical validity of “light touch” consent procedures for peer-support interventions. The investigators propose an ethical framework for research on peer support.

Simmons D, Bunn C, Nakwagala F, Safford MM, Ayala GX, Riddell M, Graffy J, Fisher EB (2015) Challenges in the Ethical Review of Peer Support Interventions. Annals of Family Medicine;13 Suppl 1:S79-86. doi: 10.1370/afm.1803.

The vulnerable object of Indigenous research ethics (Papers: Emma Kowal 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on March 30, 2016

Excerpt: The origin story of Indigenous health research ethics, like many tales of regulation, begins in a meeting room. In this case it was the Araluen Centre, Alice Springs in 1986, the site of the first conference on Aboriginal health organized by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the newly established Menzies School of Health Research. At that point, research ethics review was still in its institutional infancy. Although the first Statement on Human Experimentation was published by the NHMRC in the mid-1960s, it was not until 1973 that ethics committees were first mentioned, at which time there were few in existence. Only in 1985 did the NHMRC require that all human research be approved by an ethics committee. The final day of that Alice Springs conference was famously ‘taken over’ by Aboriginal people who tabled a list of 87 recommendations, foremost among them the need for separate ethical guidelines for Indigenous health research (Humphery 2002). The first guidelines followed in 1991, followed by the most recent version in 2003 (which is currently under review). Those events in the mid-1980s set the pattern for a separate system of Indigenous health research running parallel to mainstream research. Researchers working in Indigenous health tend to do it exclusively from the start of their career. They develop expertise in the language and processes of the field. Those outside the established groups of Indigenous health researchers are likely to intentionally exclude Indigenous research participants to avoid being drawn in to the Indigenous- specific process of NHMRC grant review.

Kowal Emma (2014) The vulnerable object of Indigenous research ethics. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 25 (3): 390-392

The Ethics Rupture: Exploring Alternatives to Formal Research-Ethics Review (Books: Will C. van den Hoonaard (editor) and Ann Hamilton 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on March 26, 2016

For decades now, researchers in the social sciences and humanities have been expressing a deep dissatisfaction with the process of research-ethics review in academia. Continuing the ongoing critique of ethics review begun in Will C. van den Hoonaard’s Walking the Tightrope and The Seduction of Ethics, The Ethics Rupture offers both an account of the system’s failings and a series of proposals on how to ensure that social research is ethical, rather than merely compliant with institutional requirements. Containing twenty-five essays written by leading experts from around the world in various disciplines, The Ethics Rupture is a landmark study of the problems caused by our current research-ethics system and the ways in which scholars are seeking solutions.

This excellent book includes a chapter (15) by Mark Israel, Gary Allen, and Colin Thomson Australian Research Ethics Governance: Plotting the Demise of the Adversarial Culture

van den Hoonaard W and Hamilton A (2016) The Ethics Rupture: Exploring Alternatives to Formal Research-Ethics Review. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.