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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) Safeguards for human studies can’t cope with big data – Nature (Nathaniel Raymond | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 19, 2019
 

Forty years on from a foundational report on how to protect people participating in research, cracks are showing, warns Nathaniel Raymond.

One of the primary documents aiming to protect human research participants was published in the US Federal Register 40 years ago this week. The Belmont Report was commissioned by Congress in the wake of the notorious Tuskegee syphilis study, in which researchers withheld treatment from African American men for years and observed how the disease caused blindness, heart disease, dementia and, in some cases, death.

This item obviously relates very specifically to the origins of the US human research ethics arrangements and the operation of IRBs, but the questions it poses are salient to Australasia.  The oft repeated statement: “But the information is already published and so is in the public domain and so is exempt”.  Is no longer helpful. We have provided a list of related items.

The Belmont Report lays out core principles now generally required for human research to be considered ethical. Although technically governing only US federally supported research, its influence reverberates across academia and industry globally. Before academics with US government funding can begin research involving humans, their institutional review boards (IRBs) must determine that the studies comply with regulation largely derived from a document that was written more than a decade before the World Wide Web and nearly a quarter of a century before Facebook.
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It is past time for a Belmont 2.0. We should not be asking those tasked with protecting human participants to single-handedly identify and contend with the implications of the digital revolution. Technological progress, including machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence, has altered the potential risks of research in ways that the authors of the first Belmont report could not have predicted. For example, Muslim cab drivers can be identified from patterns indicating that they stop to pray; the Ugandan government can try to identify gay men from their social-media habits; and researchers can monitor and influence individuals’ behaviour online without enrolling them in a study.
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The Foundation of Knowledge Production: Research Ethics Education in Taiwan (PowerPoint: Chien Chou | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 24, 2019
 

Outline

1. The Importance of Research Ethics
2. Researchers’Needs for Education
3. Education and Implementation Mechanism of Research Ethics in Taiwan’s Higher Education
4. Concluding Remarks

The Importance of research ethics

• Presents a baseline for all research behaviors
• Protects others, minimizes harm and increases the sum of good
• Supports trust among researchers and between research communities and the public
• Ensures research integrity and quality
• Satisfies organizational and professional demands • Copes with new and more challenging problems

Access Chien Chou’s presentation

The Ethics Ecosystem: Personal Ethics, Network Governance and Regulating Actors Governing the Use of Social Media Research Data (Papers: Gabrielle Samuel, et al | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 4, 2019
 

Abstract

While this paper is most obviously relevant to countries without a national standard for non-health human research (ie it might seem more useful for New Zealand) than Australia, it does point to institutions having nuanced guidance about the use of Web 2.0 material.
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AHRECS can provide an in-meeting briefing for our HREC/REC that would be 15min pre-recorded presentation (ppt with embedded audio), a video/phone connection for questions and discussion, and a short briefing note, which includes a recommended reading list. The cost of this activity is AUD 900. Send an email to inmeeting@ahrecs.com to find out more.

This paper examines the consequences of a culture of “personal ethics” when using new methodologies, such as the use of social media (SM) sites as a source of data for research. Using SM research as an example, this paper explores the practices of a number of actors and researchers within the “Ethics Ecosystem” which as a network governs ethically responsible research behaviour. In the case of SM research, the ethical use of this data is currently in dispute, as even though it is seemingly publically available, concerns relating to privacy, vulnerability, potential harm and consent blur the lines of responsible ethical research behaviour. The findings point to the dominance of a personal, bottom-up, researcher-led, ‘ethical barometer’ for making decisions regarding the permissibility of using SM data. We show that the use of different barometers by different researchers can lead to wide disparities in ethical practice – disparities which are compounded by the lack of firm guidelines for responsible practice of SM research. This has widespread consequences on the development of shared norms and understandings at all levels, and by all actors within the Ethics Ecosystem, and risks inconsistencies in their approaches to ethical decision-making. This paper argues that this governance of ethical behaviour by individual researchers perpetuates a negative cycle of academic practice that is dependent on subjective judgements by researchers themselves, rather than governed by more formalised academic institutions such as the research ethics committee and funding council guidelines.
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Keywords
Evaluation Governance, Research ethics, Social media, Ethics Internet research
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Samuel, G., Derrick, G.E. & van Leeuwen, T. Minerva. (2019). “The Ethics Ecosystem: Personal Ethics, Network Governance and Regulating Actors Governing the Use of Social Media Research Data.” Minerva.
Publisher (Open Access): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11024-019-09368-3

Whose hearts, livers and lungs are transplanted in China? Origins must be clear in human organ research – The Conversation (Wendy Rogers and Matthew Robertson | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 14, 2019
 

Scientist He Jiankui’s claimed use of the genetic tool CRISPR to edit the genomes of twin girls led to international condemnation. His actions have focused a spotlight on research ethics – and what the consequences should be when scientists “go rogue”.

The Chinese Academy of Science initially looked into He’s conduct, and a subsequent internal government investigation has allegedly identified multiple violations of state laws. He has now been fired by his university.


Read more: Tension as scientist at centre of CRISPR outrage speaks at genome editing summit


But beyond just this example, what does happen when scientists fail to comply with globally-accepted guidelines for ethical medical research? We examined this issue focusing on published research involving recipients of organ transplants performed in the People’s Republic of China.\

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