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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Friday afternoon’s funny – Captain Placebo III0

Posted by Admin in on July 10, 2020

Cartoon by Don Mayne
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Every decent superhero needs an origin story and a development arc so does second rate heroes.  Oh okay… I guess Captain Placebo doses too.

Vulnerability in human research (Papers: Ian J. Pieper & Colin J. H. Thomson AM | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 29, 2020

The conduct of prior ethics review of human research projects helps to protect vulnerable groups or populations from potential negative impacts of research. Contemporary considerations in human research considers the concept of vulnerability in terms of access to research opportunities, impacts on the consenting process, selection bias, and the generalisability of results. Recent work questions the validity of using enumerated lists as a check box approach to protect research participants from exploitation. Through the use of broad categories to treat cohorts of human research participants as homogenous classes and label some participants as vulnerable merely because they are members of a particular class, some ethics reviewers have used the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research to strip individuals of their “ethical equality”. Labelling people as vulnerable does not help researchers or human research ethics committee members develop an understanding of the complexities of applying the principles of respect and of justice in ethical decision-making. Conversely, defining specific cohorts of research participants as needing nuanced ethical consideration, due to their vulnerable nature, may imply that other population groups need not be considered vulnerable. We contend that this assumption is erroneous. This paper explores the way that human research ethics guidance documents treat vulnerability within the Australian context and draws on contemporary discussion to focus an alternative perspective based on the principles in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research for researchers and human research ethics committee members to consider.

Vulnerability, Human Research Ethics, Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), IRB

Pieper, I.J., Thomson, C.J.H. (2020) Vulnerability in human research. Monash Bioethics Review.

What Research Institutions Can Do to Foster Research Integrity (Papers: Lex Bouter | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 20, 2020


A great open access reference when talking about research integrity and informing responsible practice.  We have included links to 38 other related reads.

In many countries attention for fostering research integrity started with a misconduct case that got a lot of media exposure. But there is an emerging consensus that questionable research practices are more harmful due to their high prevalence. QRPs have in common that they can help to make study results more exciting, more positive and more statistically significant. That makes them tempting to engage in. Research institutions have the duty to empower their research staff to steer away from QRPs and to explain how they realize that in a Research Integrity Promotion Plan. Avoiding perverse incentives in assessing researchers for career advancement is an important element in that plan. Research institutions, funding agencies and journals should make their research integrity policies as evidence-based as possible. The dilemmas and distractions researchers face are real and universal. We owe it to society to collaborate and to do our utmost best to prevent QRPs and to foster research integrity.

Bouter, L. (2020) What Research Institutions Can Do to Foster Research Integrity. Science and Engineering Ethics.
Publisher (Open Access):

Academic research integrity: Exploring researchers’ perceptions of responsibilities and enablers (Papers: Twan Huybers, et al | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 16, 2020

In this paper, we explore academic researchers’ perceptions of the relative importance of the individual responsibilities in the “Singapore Statement on Research Integrity”. The way researchers view those responsibilities affects the role that research integrity enablers can play in achieving responsible research conduct. Hence, we also explore researchers’ perceptions of five such integrity enablers in this paper: country and university codes of conduct, staff training, mentoring and peer pressure.

Using data from a global online survey of university researchers (n = 302), a Best-Worst Scaling approach was used to elicit researchers’ priorities in different scenarios of responsibilities. In conjunction with latent class analysis, this yielded the implied relative importance of each researcher responsibility. For three of the four homogeneous classes of researchers identified, a different responsibility dominated the hierarchy. For instance, STEM researchers gave precedence to research methods over all other responsibilities. In relation to researchers’ perceptions on the effects of research integrity enablers, our results identified research mentoring relationships and normative peer pressure as important integrity conduits. Further exploration showed that researchers differed in their perceptions on enablers, particularly by academic position, duration of employment and country of employment. Based on our exploratory study, we identify several avenues for further research.

Research integrity, responsible conduct of research, researcher responsibilities, integrity enablers, Singapore Statement

Huybers, T., Greene, B. & Rohr, D. H. (2020) Academic research integrity: Exploring researchers’ perceptions of responsibilities and enablers. Accountability in Research, 27:3, 146-177, DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2020.1732824