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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

179 professors indicted in research publishing scam – University World News (Unsoo Jung 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on December 18, 2015

“In an unprecedented crackdown on academic misconduct, as many as 179 university professors from some 110 universities in South Korea were indicted on Monday after an extensive criminal investigation into a huge copyright scam.

The professors have been charged with republishing existing textbooks written by others under their own names by modifying the covers with the alleged connivance of the publishing companies.

According to the Prosecutors’ Office which conducted an extensive criminal investigation, this is the first time university professors have faced criminal charges for copyright violations using ‘cover-swapping’ tricks. It is also the first time so many professors have been indicted in a single investigation.

The unprecedented scale of violations has severely shaken the academic community and could have wider repercussions on public trust in academia, validity of research, and the global ranking of South Korean universities.”

Click here to view the full news report

Deregulating Social Science Research Ethics – Clipping the Wings of IRBs? – Social Science Space (Robert Dingwall 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on November 6, 2015

“The Federal Register is surely not everybody’s bedtime reading. It is where the US Government formally publishes certain official documents, including advance notice of its intention to make rules that implement Executive policies. For social science researchers, one of the most important of these has long been the so-called Common Rule, introduced in 1981 and revised in 1991. This is the legal basis for the whole system of US ethical regulation through Institutional Review Boards. Although nominally confined to US institutions, it has had a much wider reach, since any country involved in scientific collaboration with US scholars has had to adopt a similar regulatory model. The new revisions to the Common Rule, described in a ‘notice of proposed rulemaking’ published in September 2015, are, then, likely to have global implications.

In practice, the present regime’s international impact has been uneven in the social sciences, because few institutions have relevant collaborative relationships with US researchers. Major European countries like France, Italy and Germany have seen very limited regulatory developments, mainly in their health sectors and in a few elite institutions open to US influence. The UK, Ireland and the Nordic countries have, however, been strongly affected by the US model. The extensive deregulation of social science research anticipated by the notice is, then, as much a challenge to their regulators as to those in the USA.

The implementation of the Common Rule has been increasingly criticized. As the history of ethical regulation has become better understood, its origins are seen to lie less in a desire to protect human subjects than to transfer litigation risk from the Federal government to universities and to defuse a political panic over accounts of historic biomedical research misdemeanors – some of which look less scandalous when properly contextualized. The system has been widely criticized, as much by biomedical scientists as by social scientists, for its costs, complexity, and conservatism. Many critics claim that it has created a self-serving bureaucracy and facilitated institutional practices that have less to do with ethics than with liability and reputation management. Its brakes on biomedical innovation have measurable costs in lives lost. There are less measurable costs in the systematic ignorance about social conditions created by the regulators’ resistance to qualitative methods that are difficult to control. Although attempts have been made at Federal level to press IRBs to be more accepting of flexible and emergent research methods and designs, these have had only a limited impact.”

Read the full blog post.
Also see subsequent post about the ‘push-back’ in response to the change.

Ashley Madison Hack Creates Ethical Conundrum For Researchers – Huffington Post (Joe Satran 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on September 3, 2015

“When hackers dug into the databases of infidelity-focused dating website Ashley Madison and made the personal information of millions of users publicly available in mid-August, suspicious spouses weren’t the only ones tempted to take a peek. Sex researchers, whose work is often hamstrung by subjects’ reluctance to reveal intimate details in surveys, salivated at the opportunity to get an unvarnished look at the secret desires of a huge swath of Americans.”

Is it ethical to use data from Nazi medical experiments? – The Conversation (Lynn Gillam, 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on June 11, 2015

During World War II, Nazi doctors had unfettered access to human beings they could use in medical experiments in any way they chose. In one way, these experiments were just another form of mass torture and murder so our moral judgement of them is clear.

But they also pose an uncomfortable moral challenge: what if some of the medical experiments yielded scientifically sound data that could be put to good use? Would it be justifiable to use that knowledge?