ACN - 101321555 Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)
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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Dealing with Un(Expected) Ethical Dilemma: Experience from the Field (Papers: Zaleha Othman and Fathilatul Zakimi Hamid | 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 10, 2018

Despite the growing interest in qualitative research and discussion of ethics, there has been little focus in the literature on the specific ethical dilemmas faced by researchers. In this paper, we share our fieldwork experiences regarding the ethical dilemmas that we encountered while doing research on a sensitive topic. Specifically, we share some of the ethical dilemmas, that is, concerning confidentiality, anonymity, legitimacy, controversial data, interpretation and off -the-record data, which emerged from the research. Most importantly, this paper shares ideas concerning how researchers might deal with ethical issues while preserving their integrity in the research process. Overall, this paper suggests approaches that qualitative researchers can adopt when doing research on sensitive topics. the paper contributes towards closing an existing gap in the literature, making visible the challenges frequently faced by qualitative researchers, that is, the vulnerability of researchers while preserving research integrity. Finally, this paper concludes with the suggestion that ethical dilemmas are part of the research process in doing qualitative research. However, it is suggested that future research should focus on ethical issues from the perspective of the researchers as well as the respondents.

Ethical Dilemma, Research, Sensitive, Qualitative Research, Con dential, Anonymity

Othman Z. & Abdul Hamid, F. (2018). Dealing with Un(Expected) Ethical Dilemma: Experience from the Field. The Qualitative Report, 23(4), 733-741. Retrieved from
Publisher (Creative Commons):

Australian agency to probe Facebook after shocking revelation – The New Daily (April 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 8, 2018

Australian’s privacy commissioner will conduct a formal investigation into Facebook after the US social media giant revealed up to one in 50 local users may have had their personal information accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

The 87 million Facebook users who had their information ‘scraped’ for Cambridge Analytica included over 310,000 Australians. This would appear to be shocking breach of the Commonwealth Privacy Act and both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have serious questions to answer. It is worth noting the app that made this possible was written by a university-based researcher and the information scraped without the knowledge (much less consent) of the users was then sold.

The probe will establish whether the Mark Zuckerberg-led multi-billion dollar behemoth breached the Australian privacy act.
Facebook has admitted 311,127 Australian users are likely among the up to 87 million users worldwide whose data was unknowingly and “improperly” shared with the British political consultancy agency.
“All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations in relation to the personal information that they hold,” Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner privacy commissioner Angelene Falk said on Thursday.
“This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is held securely, and ensuring that customers are adequately notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.”


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(South Africa) University of Pretoria Code of Ethics for Research (Released 2007, updated 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 5, 2018

We were impressed by the Pretoria Code because of its approach to social responsibility. Together with the discussion of how social responsibility as a component of research ethics operates in South Africa, it is interesting, particularly the need to engage with, but also remain independent of, government priorities. The recognition that there are different concepts of justice is more sophisticated than discussions in many other national frameworks (including the Australian National Statement).


The University of Pretoria gives high priority to research as one of the primary functions of the university community.

It pursues a research ethos that promotes excellence as well as ethical responsibility in the search for and the creation, conservation and transfer of knowledge.

Consequently, researchers at the University are required to pursue the highest standards of excellence and ethical behaviour in all their research activities…

Access the Code






1. The rights of researchers

1.1 Academic freedom
1.2 Research environment
1.3 Facilities, services and other resources

2. The responsibilities of researchers

2.1 Social responsibility
2.2 Justice
2.3 Benevolence
2.4 Respect for the individual
2.5 Professionalism
2.6 Refraining from discrimination
2.7 Refraining from abusing supervisory authority
2.8 Refraining from sexual harassment


1. Researchers and South African society

1.1 South African society
1.2 The government of the day
1.3 The environment

2. Researchers and clients or funders of research

2.1 Conflict of interests
2.2 Confidentiality of research results
2.3 Financial obligations
2.4 Equipment control
2.5 Funds for new fields of research

3. Researchers, the University and the broad science community

3.1 General conduct
3.2 Academic misconduct
3.3 Conflict of interests
3.4 Intellectual property

4. Researchers and their colleagues or collaborators

4.1 Authorship
4.2 Selecting research partners
4.3 Assisting with the research of others
4.4 Health and safety

Cambridge Analytica controversy must spur researchers to update data ethics – Nature (Editorial | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 30, 2018

A scandal over an academic’s use of Facebook data highlights the need for research scrutiny.

Revelations keep emerging in the Cambridge Analytica personal-data scandal, which has captured global public attention for more than a week. But when the dust settles, researchers harvesting data online will face greater scrutiny. And so they should.

At the centre of the controversy is Aleksandr Kogan, a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, UK. In 2014, he recruited people to complete a number of surveys and sign up to an app that handed over Facebook information on themselves — and tens of millions of Facebook friends. Kogan passed the data to SCL, a UK firm that later founded controversial political-consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica in London. (All those involved deny any wrongdoing.)

Last week, Facebook announced restrictions on data harvesting by third parties, including drastically reducing the kinds of information that app developers can access. (It had already changed its rules in 2014 to stop developers gleaning data from users’ friends through their apps.) But damage has been done: the public has good reason to be angry about the way in which researchers and companies have seemingly used personal data without consumers’ full understanding or consent.

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