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

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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Human Research Ethics and social media0

Posted by Admin in on September 10, 2017
 

After briefly discussing the resourcing reflective practice approach to human research ethics this presentation reflects on the tricky human research ethics considerations and challenges raised by the use of social media in research.

In the last few years there have been a few significant cases that have raised thorny cases for research institutions:

(1) Ashley Maddison, WikiLeaks and other hacked data – Does your institution have a policy on such data;

(2) OkCupid and other scrapped data – Your institution and breaches of web site/platform rules;

(3) Emotional contagion and bundled/implied consent. Your institution and reliance on bundled/implied consent.

An ethics in practice symposium was held in Auckland at the Auckland University of Technology South campus on June 28. 2017 and repeated in Wellington at the Massey University campus on July 7 as a continuation of an ethics in practice conference held at Otago University in 2015. The symposium was intended to bring social science researchers together with ethics committee members to discuss common concerns and to learn more about innovations in the field of disaster research ethics and ethics administration in Australia. The symposiums were funded by a Marsden grant (U00-088) from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Unless institutions have policy settings and resources with regard to the above matters they are failing to provide adequate guidance to its researchers and vulnerable to similar damaging institutional risk. An essential first step is recognising that such is human research that should be subject to research ethics review. In the past such work (at least cases 1 and 2) might have been considered as research with already published information and so not requiring review, but instead it is important to recognise individuals often don’t understand the privacy settings of the social media platforms they are using and, rather than exempting work because the information has been published it might instead be helpful to think of it as akin to a researcher overhearing a conversation in a coffeeshop. While it could be argued whether the person’s overheard had a reasonable expectation of privacy the research use of the overheard conversation would fail to meet the ethical principle of respect.
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In the case of Twitter research ethics reviewers might expect researchers to delete a poster’s name and/or modify their comments to conceal their identity but doing so would breach Twitters rules and would be considered to be infringing the copyright of the poster.
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Increasingly there is an awareness that smart algorithms, big data and the processing power of even relatively cheap consumer computers are making it possible to re-identify data that previously might have been considered anonymous. This raises a difficult challenge for researchers (and research ethics reviewers): What to tell participants about their anonymityu? At the very least it’s another complication for data sharing. In this context the consideration might not be, is the data personally identified, instead it might be what harms might occur if it is identified.
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The presentation also reflected on the impacts of the ‘UQ racist bus driver’ case in terms of its impact for institutional low-risk research ethics review processes.
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The presentation includes links to the cases mentioned.
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This presentation was delivered by Dr Gary Allen.
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Disaster ethics: issues for researchers and participants (Papers: Dónal O’Mathúna | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on September 7, 2017
 

Disaster responders need evidence to help guide their decisions as they plan for and implement responses. The need for evidence creates an ethical imperative to conduct some research on and in disasters. Some of that research involves human participants and raises another ethical imperative to protect participants. This presentation will provide an overview of some ethical challenges arising in balancing the dual imperatives in disaster research: to produce high-quality research findings and to engage with participants ethically and respectfully. Such issues have been highlighted by the inclusion of disaster research within the 2016 revision of the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) ethics guidelines for health-related research involving humans.

An ethics in practice symposium was held in Auckland at the Auckland University of Technology South campus on June 28. 2017 and repeated in Wellington at the Massey University campus on July 7 as a continuation of an ethics in practice conference held at Otago University in 2015. The symposium was intended to bring social science researchers together with ethics committee members to discuss common concerns and to learn more about innovations in the field of disaster research ethics and ethics administration in Australia. The symposiums were funded by a Marsden grant (U00-088) from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Debate exists over whether disaster research ethics is particularly unique. Regardless, the confluence of challenging ethical issues and the multiple vulnerabilities to which participants are exposed has the potential to create a perfect ethical storm. These issues will be examined through the lens of one set of benchmarks for ethical research in low-income settings, with examples from intervention research and qualitative research in humanitarian crises. Disaster research challenges current approaches to research ethics approval procedures. The current weight of research ethics An argument will be presented that research ethics is currently unbalanced with its focus on ethical approval and needs to refocus on facilitating ethical research. Virtue ethics for researchers needs to be developed because in the field, all that researchers may have to rely on are their conscience, virtues and personal integrity.
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Dónal O’Mathúna is Associate Professor of ethics at Dublin City University, Ireland and at The Ohio State University, USA. He is the Director of the Center for Disaster & Humanitarian Ethics (http://www.ge2p2.org/new-blog/) and was Chair of the EU-funded COST Action on Disaster Bioethics, 2012-2016 (http://disasterbioethics.eu/). He has written and presented widely on disaster ethics, including a recent comment in The Lancet (DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31276-X).
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Ethics in the scholarship of teaching and learning: Key principles and strategies for ethical practice. Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning Guide Series0

Posted by Admin in on September 5, 2017
 

“This new Taylor Institute Guide takes the researcher through the essentials of the Canadian standards for ethical practice in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Because of the unique challenges of SoTL, where the human participants that are the subject of the research are also typically the researcher’s students, this Guide translates the comprehensive TCPS2 (2014) for the researcher conducting SoTL research.” Access this particular guide here.

Fedoruk, L. (2017). Ethics in the scholarship of teaching and learning: Key principles and strategies for ethical practice. Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning Guide Series. Calgary, AB: Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary. www.ucalgary.ca/taylorinstitute/guides

Covers key issues in research ethics and tracks TCPS2 well (the Canadian national statement on research ethics). Limited reference to research ethics literature and it would have been good to see the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning community model more imaginative pedagogy in research ethics.

Also see
SoTL resource booklets produced by AHRECS

Friday afternoon’s funny – Pressure on research ethics committee members0

Posted by Admin in on September 1, 2017
 

Cartoon by Don Mayne www.researchcartoons.com

Systems rarely work well under pressure. When you consider the crippling and constant avalanche of work, the demands in terms of policy/law/governance, researcher and institutional demands for speed and rigour, and the desire to do things well, it should be no surprise to learn that serving on a research ethics committee is sometimes described as a remorseless pressure cooker. It also shouldn’t be a surprise if matters fall short of best practice. If your institution/committee/research community is having those kinds of problems AHRECS can help with some constructive ideas.

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