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The main obstacles to better research data management and sharing are cultural. But change is in our hands – LSE Blog (Marta Teperek and Alastair Dunning | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 7, 2018

This blog post is a summary of Marta Teperek’s presentation at today’s Better Science through Better Data 2018 event.

By now, it’s probably difficult to find a researcher who hasn’t heard of journal requirements for sharing research data supporting publications. Or a researcher who hasn’t heard of funder requirements for data management plans. Or of institutional policies for data management and sharing. That’s a lot of requirements! Especially considering data management is just one set of guidelines researchers need to comply with (on top of doing their own competitive research, of course).

All of these requirements are in place for good reasons. Those who are familiar with the research reproducibility crisis and understand that missing data and code is one of the main reasons for it need no convincing of this. Still, complying with the various data policies is not easy; it requires time and effort from researchers. And not all researchers have the knowledge and skills to professionally manage and share their research data. Some might even wonder what exactly their research data is (or how to find it).

Read the rest of this discussion piece

The Ethical Quandary of Human Infection Studies – Undark (Linda Nordling | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 4, 2018

Sometimes infecting volunteers with a disease can lead to new treatments. But how much risk and compensation is acceptable for those in poor nations

IN FEBRUARY OF last year, 64 healthy adult Kenyans checked into a university residence in the coastal town of Kilifi. After a battery of medical tests, they proceeded, one by one, into a room where a doctor injected them with live malaria parasites. Left untreated, the infection could have sickened or even killed them, since malaria claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

This excellent piece about researchers from affluent countries conducting ‘infection studies’ in poor countries raises issues you might not have considered.

But the volunteers — among them casual laborers, subsistence farmers, and young mothers from nearby villages — were promised treatment as soon as infection took hold. They spent the next few weeks sleeping, eating, and socializing together under the watchful eye of scientists, giving regular blood samples and undergoing physical exams. Some grew sick within a couple of weeks, and were treated and cleared of the parasite before being sent home. Those who did not fall ill were treated after three weeks as a precaution and discharged, too.
As compensation, the volunteers received between $300 and $480 each, or roughly $20 a day, a rate based on the minimum wage for casual laborers in Kenya and the out-of-pocket allowance set for overnight stays by KEMRI, the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

Vulnerability in research subjects: a bioethical taxonomy (Kenneth Kipnis | 2001)0

Posted by Admin in on November 30, 2018

The concept of vulnerability appears to have been grandfathered into the lexicon, lore, and literature of research ethics without undergoing stringent certification. And yet the need for some such notion has long been appreciated. More than 50 years ago, reflecting on the ethical implications of the Nazi medical experiments, the authors of the Nuremberg Code emphasized the necessity of the subject’s informed consent, too hastily ruling out, as it quickly became apparent, medical research on children and those with cognitive impairments.

In the United States, widely studied episodes such as Willowbrook,1 the Brooklyn Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Case,2 and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study3 provoked debates that eventually gave birth to our current methods for ensuring the ethical conduct of research. But despite the remarkable circumstances of the subjects involved in those studies—institutionalized children, hospitalized elderly, and impoverished and poorly educated black Alabama males—it is not much of an exaggeration to say that in the minds of many investigators the paradigmatic research subject remains more or less a mature, respectable, moderately well-educated, clearthinking, literate, self-supporting U.S. citizen in good standing—that is, a man who could understand a 12- page consent form and act intelligently on the basis of its contents. While I shall assume in what follows both that the existing guidelines are sufficient to deal ethically with the paradigmatic research subject, and, further, that all those standard protections are reliably in place, the vulnerable research subject nonetheless requires ethical consideration going beyond that baseline.

More recently, in the wake of the Nuremberg Code’s shortcomings, systematic attention has been accorded to a motley collection of vulnerable subpopulations. In 1979, for example, the seminal Belmont Report4 briefly considered children, the institutionalized mentally ill, and prisoners, mentioning dependency and compromised capacity for consent as representative hallmarks of vulnerability. There was no effort to be comprehensive. The more recent Federal Regulations on the Protection of Human Subjects (45 CFR 46) implement the requirement that Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) take into account the “special problems of research involving vulnerable populations, such as children, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled persons, or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons” (46–111). Criteria for vulnerability are not discussed although subparts are included with supplementary regulations for some of these groups. Finally, the Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments,5 after reviewing patterns of unethical misconduct in military research, recommended special protections for enlistees.

Read the rest of this commissioned  paper

Kipnis K. (2001) Vulnerability in research subjects: a bioethical taxonomy. In: National Bioethics Advisory Commission, editor. Ethical and policy issues in research involving human participants. Bethesda: National Bioethics Advisory Commission. pp. G1–G13.

Respect for Human Vulnerability: The Emergence of a New Principle in Bioethics (Papers: Henk ten Have | 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on November 30, 2018

Vulnerability has become a popular though controversial topic in bioethics, notably since 2000. As a result, a common body of knowledge has emerged (1) distinguishing between different types of vulnerability, (2) criticizing the categorization of populations as vulnerable, and (3) questioning the practical implications. It is argued that two perspectives on vulnerability, i.e., the philosophical and political, pose challenges to contemporary bioethics discourse: they re-examine the significance of human agency, the primacy of the individual person, and the negativity of vulnerability. As a phenomenon of globalization, vulnerability can only be properly addressed in a global bioethics that takes the social dimension of human existence seriously.

Global bioethics, Globalization, Vulnerability, Research ethics, Philosophy of medicine

ten Have, H. Respect for Human Vulnerability: The Emergence of a New Principle in Bioethics. Bioethical Inquiry (2015) 12: 395.