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

Resource Library

Research Ethics MonthlyAbout Us

ResourcesResearch results

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Detecting, Preventing, and Responding to “Fraudsters” in Internet Research: Ethics and Tradeoffs (Papers: Jennifer Teitcher et al 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on February 17, 2016
 

Abstract:  Internet-based health research is increasing, and often offers financial incentives but fraudulent behavior by participants can result. Specifically, eligible or ineligible individuals may enter the study multiple times and receive undeserved financial compensation. We review past experiences and approaches to this problem and propose several new strategies. Researchers can detect and prevent Internet research fraud in four broad ways: (1) through the questionnaire/instrument (e.g., including certain questions in survey; and software for administering survey); (2) through participants’ non-questionnaire data and seeking external validation (e.g., checking data for same email addresses, usernames, passwords, and/or fake addresses or phone numbers; (3) through computer information, (e.g., IP addresses and cookies), and 4) through study design (e.g., avoid lump sum compensation and interviewing participants). These approaches each have pros and cons, and raise ethical, legal, and logistical questions, given that ethical tensions can emerge between preserving the integrity of research vs. protecting the privacy and confidentiality of study respondents. While past discussions concerning the ethics of online research have tended to focus on the participants’ ability to trust the researchers, needs now arise to examine researchers’ abilities to trust the participants. This analysis has several critical implications for future practice, policy, and research.

“Research that recruits and surveys participants online is increasing, but is subject to fraud whereby study respondents – whether eligible or ineligible – participate multiple times. Online Internet research can provide investigators with large sample sizes and is cost efficient. Internet-based research also provides distance between the researchers and participants, allowing the participant to remain confidential and/or anonymous, and thus to respond to questions freely and honestly without worrying about the stigma associated with their answers. However, increasing and recurring instances of fraudulent activity among subjects raise challenges for researchers and Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).2 The distance from participants, and the potential anonymity and convenience of online research allow for individuals to participate easily more than once, skewing results and the overall quality of the data.”

Detecting, Preventing, and Responding to “Fraudsters” in Internet Research: Ethics and Tradeoffs. Available from: .

Teitcher J, Bockting W, Bauermeister J, Hoefer C, Miner M, Klitzman R (2015) Detecting, Preventing, and Responding to “Fraudsters” in Internet Research: Ethics and Tradeoffs The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 43(1).  pp. 116-133, .
Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274459694_Detecting_Preventing_and_Responding_to_Fraudsters_in_Internet_Research_Ethics_and_Tradeoffs (accessed Feb 17, 2016].
Publisher: https://www.aslme.org/index.php/detecting-preventing-and-responding-to-fraudsters-in-internet-research-ethics-and-tradeoffs.html

Strictly Confidential?: Integrity and the Disclosure of Criminological and Socio-Legal Research (Papers: Mark Israel 2004)0

Posted by Admin in on February 13, 2016
 

Abstract: When people allow researchers to investigate them, they often negotiate terms for the agreement. Participants in research may, for example, consent on the basis that the information obtained about them will be used only by the researchers and only in particular ways. The information is private and is voluntarily offered to the researcher in confidence. Researchers can justify protecting confidentiality by appealing to consequentialist-, rights- or fidelity-based arguments. Failure to respect confidentiality might not only affect one research project, but could have a ‘chilling effect’ on all criminological research. However, various researchers working in criminology, socio–legal studies and related fields have come under institutional, legal, physical and ethical pressures to disclose confidential information. They have been subpoenaed, imprisoned and have faced threats from armed drug dealers. To protect their sources, they have lied to correctional authorities, prosecutors and police (as well as to armed drug dealers). Drawing on an international literature, I examine some of the legal and methodological measures that researchers have taken to protect data, as well as some of the rationales that might justify disclosing information given in confidence by research participants.

“When people allow researchers to investigate them, they often negotiate terms for the agreement. Participants in research may, for example, consent on the basis that the information obtained about them will be used only by specific researchers and only in particular ways. The information is private and is voluntarily offered to the researcher in confidence.

In some research projects, negotiations around confidentiality may be fairly straightforward. Some researchers are able to operate in relatively predictable contexts, where standardized assurances about material may be included in a covering letter with a questionnaire. However, other work takes place in informal and unpredictable environments, where agreements may need to be negotiated with individuals and groups and renegotiated during the course of lengthy fieldwork.

Some forms of research may create significant risks for research participants. In criminological and socio–legal research, it is typically the researcher who approaches a potential participant and asks for confidential information to be revealed in exchange for . . . possibly not very much direct benefit (Robinson 1991). As two Canadian criminologists, John Lowman and Ted Palys, have argued:

Our research subjects divulge information in confidence about their own criminal activity . . . and sexual activity to a person who has asked them to divulge the information, with the full knowledge they are offering us ‘data’ that will at some point be compiled, analyzed and published. The researcher usually…

Israel, M (2004) Strictly Confidential? Integrity and the Disclosure of Criminological and Socio-Legal Research. British Journal of Criminology 44/5, pp715-40.
https://www.academia.edu/16344714/Strictly_Confidential_Integrity_and_the_Disclosure_of_Criminological_and_Socio-Legal_Research?verify_fulltext=42515537
Publisher: http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/44/5/715

Why should ethics approval be required prior to publication of health promotion research? (Papers: Ainsley J Newson and Wendy Lipworth 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on February 8, 2016
 

Abstract:

Issue addressed:Most academic journals that publish studies involving human participants require evidence that the research has been approved by a human research ethics committee (HREC). Yet journals continue to receive submissions from authorswho have failed to obtain such approval. In this paper, we provide an ethical justification of why journals should not, in general,publish articles describing research that has no ethics approval, with particular attention to the health promotion context.

Methods:Using theoretical bioethical reasoning and drawing on a case study, we first rebut some potential criticisms of the need for research ethics approval. We then outline four positive claims to justify a presumption that research should, in most instances,be published only if it has been undertaken with HREC approval.

Results:We present four justifications for requiring ethics approval before publication: (1) HREC approval adds legitimacy to the research; (2) the process of obtaining HREC approval can improve the quality of an intervention being investigated;(3) obtaining HREC approval can help mitigate harm; and (4) obtaining HREC approval demonstrates respect for persons.

Conclusion:This paper provides a systematic and comprehensive assessment of why research ethics approval should generally be obtained before publishing in the health promotion context.So what?Journals such as theHealth Promotion Journal of Australiahave recently begun to require research ethics approvalfor publishing research. Health promotion researchers will be interested in learning the ethical justification for this change.

Newson A and Lipworth W (2015) Why should ethics approval be required prior to publication of health promotion research?. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2015,26, 170–175. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283640817_Why_should_ethics_approval_be_required_prior_to_publication_of_health_promotion_research (accessed 9 February 2016)
Publisher (Open Access): http://www.publish.csiro.au/?paper=HE15034

I’m Okay, You’re Okay?: Reflections on the Well-Being and Ethical Requirements of Researchers and Research Participants in Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork Interviews (Papers: Wendy Mitchell and Annie Irvine 2008)0

Posted by Admin in on February 3, 2016
 

Abstract: In this paper the authors present their reflections on a U.K. government–funded study exploring mental health and employment. Conducting research on a sensitive theme with a potentially vulnerable group gave renewed focus to some social research issues, including consent and control, rapport building, managing and responding to emotion, and offering appropriate longer term support. The researchers discuss their personal approaches and experiences (practical, methodological, ethical) during and after the fieldwork process. In the paper the authors highlight some of the challenges they faced and discuss how these were addressed and managed, sometimes differently, and not always resolved. They demonstrate the need for researchers to be aware of their “research footprint,” in particular the need to be reflexive and responsive to participants’ emotional well-being, and for funders and employers to also be sensitive to and mindful of the demands of social research, including impacts on researchers’ well-being.

Keywords: fieldwork practice, face-to-face interviews, participant well-being, researcher well-being, interview reciprocity, research footprint

Authors’ note:  We thank the 40 people who participated in interviews with us for the Mental Health and Employment study. Each one of them made a valuable contribution to project. We would also like to thank Simon Gilbody, Professor of Psychological Medicine and Health Services Research, for his advice and support for the project, and Anne Corden, Senior Research Fellow, for constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the research funding body (The Department for Work and Pensions).

Mitchell W & Irvine A (2008) I’m Okay, You’re Okay?: Reflections on the Well-Being and Ethical Requirements of Researchers and Research Participants in Conducting Qualitative Fieldwork Interviews. International Journal of Qualitative Methods December 2008 vol. 7 no. 4 31-44
ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277172512_I%27m_Okay_You%27re_Okay_Reflections_on_the_Well-Being_and_Ethical_Requirements_of_Researchers_and_Research_Participants_in_Conducting… (accessed Feb 4, 2016).
Publisher (Open Access): http://ijq.sagepub.com/content/7/4/31.full#sec-1

0