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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The long march to open science – Horizons (Sven Titz September 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on September 16, 2016
 

Many researchers are positive about the new, burgeoning science culture, but they still hesitate to enter into an open exchange of knowledge. There are many reasons why – such as a lack of knowledge about data management and the fear of intellectual property theft. By Sven Titz
(From “Horizons” no. 110 September 2016)

Scientists disclose all their study plans and experimental designs; they write daily blogs about their progress in the lab, revealing every detail; and then they publish in open-access journals that are assessed through an open peer-review process. And their results are stored in databases that are on open access to everyone. This is the utopia of open science.

Are we about to attain such a state of transparent research? Well, things are unlikely to develop quite so straightforwardly. Sometimes it’s because there’s just not enough money. Sometimes people aren’t in a position to set up the required databases. And sometimes scientists hesitate to reveal their data because they fear that competitors could steal their ideas and publish them first…

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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

Publicly available data on thousands of OKCupid users pulled over copyright claim – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook May 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on May 20, 2016
 

The Open Science Framework (OSF) has pulled a dataset from 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid over copyright concerns, according to the study author.

The release of the dataset generated concerns, by making personal information — including personality traits — publicly available.

Emil Kirkegaard, a master’s student at Aarhus University in Denmark, told us that the OSF removed the data from its site after OkCupid filed a claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires the host of online content to remove it under certain conditions. Kirkegaard also submitted a paper based on this dataset to the journal he edits, Open Differential Psychology. But with the dataset no longer public, the fate of the paper is subject to “internal discussions,” he told us.

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Also see
(12/05/16) Researchers just released profile data on 70,000 OkCupid users without permission
(20/05/16) Publicly available data on thousands of OKCupid users pulled over copyright claim
(21/05/16) Scientists are just as confused about the ethics of big-data research as you
(14/07/16) Are Research Ethics Obsolete In The Era Of Big Data?

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