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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(Australia) Caught Our Notice: Ethics, data concerns prompt another retraction for convicted researchers – Retraction Watch (Alison Abritis | November 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on November 4, 2017

Title: Unravelling the influence of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) on cognitive-linguistic processing: A comparative group analysis

What Caught our Attention: RW readers might already be familiar with Caroline Barwood and Bruce Murdoch, two researchers from Australia who had the rare distinction of being criminally charged for research misconduct. Both Barwood and Murdoch received suspended sentences after being found guilty of multiple counts of fraud. In September 2014, University of Queensland announcedthat:

“UQ subsequently examined 92 papers published since 2007 by former staff members Bruce Murdoch and Caroline Barwood. The examination did not reveal any other instances of research not supported by primary data or of research undertaken without ethics approval.

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Also see
(07/01/17) Remaining fraud charges withdrawn for Parkinson’s… – Retraction Watch
(9/11/16) Tougher action needed in the fight against… – The Conversation
(26/10/2016) Academic misconduct claims: Fresh call for national body – The Australian
(25/10/16) Parkinson’s researcher avoids jail following… – Retraction Watch
(24/10/16) Australian court finds Parkinson’s researcher guilty of fraud – Retraction Watch
(17/10/16) Parkinson’s researcher in Australia pleads not… – Retraction Watch
(14/10/16) Parkinson’s researcher with three retractions heads to court… – Retraction Watch

(21/07/16)  4th retraction for neuroscientist sentenced for fraud – Retraction Watch
(31/03/16) Bruce Murdoch: Former University of Queensland professor given suspended… – Courier Mail


Is it too Late for Big Data Ethics? – Forbes (Kaslev Leetaru | October 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on November 1, 2017

Over the past few weeks my inbox has seen a steady stream of emails on the topic of big data and AI research ethics. From the NSF-funded PERVADE study to industry initiatives to roundtables and discussions at the Association of Internet Researchers annual meeting in Tartu, Estonia this week, it would seem data ethics has hit its stride. Yet, should we have hope that there will actually be change, or is it just too late for big data ethics?

As I’ve written again and again and again and again and again on these pages, the tide in the world of big data and AI research seems to have turned decidedly against the notion of outside ethical review. Instead of asking what questions we should be asking that would better human society, data scientists today all-too-often ask what questions are possible with the data and tools at hand and especially what questions would generate the most attention (and hence publication prestige and grant funding).

Even while academia publicly promotes a narrative of soul searching and a return to focusing on what data scientists should do, rather than what they can do, the reality is little changed. Studies generate public outrage and statements of editorial concern, only for the journal and university to turn around after things have quieted down and say they would do little differently. Professional societies that have become synonymous with extensive full IRB review and informed consent welcome into their own journal papers that have neither. Prominent researchers tout…

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Is it time to bring a big data/computer science person* into the membership of Human Research Ethics Committees now irrespective of whether it’s a requirement of the national arrangements? Hint: We think we should be talking about it at a committee level AND at the national level. The topic isn’t necessarily pervading all disciplines… YET… but work being undertaken by government-funded-institutions NOW appears to beginning to touch on research ethics matters in a way that should be informed by ethical thinking and reviewed by a research ethics committee. *Even if that person isn’t conversant in ethics and big data or ethics in computer science. Perhaps it’s precisely the fact they don’t already have that knowledge is why it might be useful to bring them into a committee.

Ethics of Internet research trigger scrutiny – Nature (Elizabeth Gibney | October 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on October 12, 2017

Concern over the use of public data spurs guideline update.

This case highlights the degree to which there has been an important shift in the degree to which online research can circumvent anonymity strategies that in the recent past seemed impenetrable. We will be following PERVADE with keen interest.

British graffiti artist Banksy is renowned for his anonymity. But that status was dented last year when researchers published a paper that cross-referenced the locations of Banksy’s street art with public information about people’s addresses and likely movements (M. V. Hauge et al. J. Spatial Sci. 61, 185–190; 2016). The team, led by academics at Queen Mary University of London, concluded that someone previously suspected to be Banksy probably was the secretive artist.
Because the study used public data, a university ethics committee said that the work was exempt from formal review — and informally advised academics that it would do no harm because a UK national newspaper had already identified the person in question as Banksy. But for some ethicists, the paper highlights growing concerns about the potential hazards of research that uses public data. “I think this study should never have been done,” says Jake Metcalf, a technology ethicist at the think tank Data & Society in New York City.

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Fertility docs said their study didn’t need ethics review. An investigation said they were wrong – Retraction Watch (Andrew P. Han | September 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on October 5, 2017

A journal is retracting a paper on the relative merits of one fertility procedure compared to another because the study never received ethical review or approval.

Another ‘good’ example of failure to obtain ethical clearance becoming a research integrity matter.

In the paper, “Intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection versus conventional intracytoplasmic sperm injection: a randomized controlled trial,” originally published Aug. 27, 2015 in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, the authors wrote:

……“The Local Ethical Committee approval was not required because the procedure was commonly employed in the clinical practice.

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