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

(EU) Make Way for the Robots! Human- and Machine-Centricity in Constituting a European Public–Private Partnership (Papers: Kjetil Rommetveit, et al | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 26, 2020
 

Abstract

Even though not directly research integrity-related, this lengthy open-access paper gives an interesting insight from Europe into the very near future of human-autonomous robot collaboration.

This article is an analytic register of recent European efforts in the making of ‘autonomous’ robots to address what is imagined as Europe’s societal challenges. The paper describes how an emerging techno-epistemic network stretches across industry, science, policy and law to legitimize and enact a robotics innovation agenda. Roadmap is the main metaphor and organizing tool in working across the disciplines and sectors, and in aligning these heterogeneous actors with a machine-centric vision along a path to make way for ‘new kinds’ of robots. We describe what happens as this industry-dominated project docks in a public–private partnership with pan-European institutions and a legislative initiative on robolaw. Emphasizing the co-production of robotics and European innovation politics, we observe how well-known uncertainties and scholarly debates about machine capabilities and human–machine configurations, are unexpectedly played out in legal scholarship and institutions as a controversy and a significant problem for human-centered legal frameworks. European robotics are indeed driving an increase in speculative ethics and a new-found weight of possible futures in legislative practice.

Rommetveit, K., van Dijk, N. & Gunnarsdóttir, K. Make Way for the Robots! Human- and Machine-Centricity in Constituting a European Public–Private Partnership. Minerva 58, 47–69 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11024-019-09386-1
Publisher (Open Access): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11024-019-09386-1

Research ethics courses as a vaccination against a toxic research environment or culture (Papers: Nicole Ling Yeo-Teh & Bor Tang | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 25, 2020
 

Abstract

We have included 17 links to other items about promoting a positive research culture through HDR professional development and mentoring.

Hofmann and Holm’s (2019) recent survey on issues of research misconduct with PhD graduates culminated with a notable conclusion by the authors: ‘Scientific misconduct seems to be an environmental issue as much as a matter of personal integrity’. Here, we re-emphasise the usefulness of an education-based countermeasure against toxic research environments or cultures that promote unethical practices amongst the younger researchers. We posit that an adequately conducted course in research ethics and integrity, with a good dose of case studies and analyses, can function in a manner that is metaphorically akin to vaccination. The training would cultivate the ability to analyse and build confidence in young researchers in making decisions with sound moral reasoning as well as in speaking up or arguing against pressure and coercions into unacceptable behaviour. A sufficiently large number of young researchers exposed to research ethics trainings would essentially provide a research community some degree of lasting herd immunity at its broadest base. Beyond passive immunity, a crop of research ethics-savvy young researchers could also play active and influential roles as role models for others at their level and perhaps even help correct the wayward attitudes of some senior researchers and initiate prompt action from institutional policy makers in a bottom-up manner.

Keywords
Authorship, research environment, research ethics, research misconduct, responsible conduct of research courses

Yeo-Teh, N. S. L., & Tang, B. L. (2020). Research ethics courses as a vaccination against a toxic research environment or culture. Research Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016120926686
Publisher (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1747016120926686

Is Research Ethics Committee review of most clinical trials fundamentally broken? – BMJ Blog (Mark Yarborough | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 22, 2020
 

Imagine that you suffered from a fatal neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimers or ALS, or that you had a serious chronic condition like hypertension or heart disease. Imagine further that you were asked to participate in a clinical trial related to your disease. Finally, imagine that the person recruiting you into the trial reassured you that the study had been vetted by a research ethics committee (REC) tasked with protecting your welfare, rights, and interests.

For more than a century combined, we have chaired, served on, supported, written about and consulted on/for research ethics committees.  And we have served on NHMRC committees.  So it will not come as a complete surprise that we don’t entirely agree with this provocative piece.  But it does raise issues worthy of sober and informed discussion.

 

Of course, countless people in these exact same circumstances routinely get recruited into REC-approved trials. While many or perhaps even most of them may have never heard of RECs and the role they play in clinical research, they nevertheless are likely to implicitly trust that the trials they are being recruited into are both important and ethical to conduct. Such trust should be warranted since that is what REC approval is meant to certify.
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But does REC approval reliably certify this? I suspect that many readers of this journal believe that they do and thus rarely if ever truly ponder the question. I know this used to be true for me, in large part due to my own personal experiences working on RECs and seeing the hard work and dedication of committee members and staff. Today, though, I am convinced that the question is one of the most central ones there is in research ethics. After all, the trustworthiness of the clinical research endeavour is in large part a direct outcome of the strength of the accountability measures in place to support it and REC review is at the heart of those accountability measures.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

(US) Universities Step Up the Fight for Open-Access Research – WIRED (Gregory Barber | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 20, 2020
 

Today’s deal between the University of California and publisher Springer Nature is a big milestone on the path to dismantling paywalls around academic journals.

FIVE YEARS AGO, when Jeffrey MacKie-Mason first joined the University of California team that negotiates with academic publishers, he asked a colleague what would happen if he failed to strike a deal. What if, instead, he simply canceled their subscription? “I was told I would be fired the next day,” the UC Berkeley librarian says. Last year, he tested out the theory. The university system had been trying to negotiate a deal to make all of its research open-access—outside of a paywall—with Elsevier, the world’s largest academic publisher. But they were too far apart on what that would cost. So MacKie-Mason’s team walked away.

An update on efforts towards making the results of quality research publicly accessible to all.  We have included links to fifteen related items.

To his surprise, the army of UC researchers who depended on that subscription were willing to go along with it. They’d lose the ability to read new articles in thousands of Elsevier journals, sure, but there were ways to get by without a subscription. They could email researchers directly for copies. The university would pay for individual articles. And yes, unofficially, some would just probably download from Sci-Hub, the illicit repository where virtually every scientific article can be found. To MacKie-Mason, it was clarifying: The conventional wisdom that had weakened his negotiating hand was thoroughly dispelled.
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Since then, progress towards open access has crept along. More deals of the kind UC wants have been struck, especially in Europe. But in the United States, progress has been especially halting. Then, last week, MIT officials announced that they too had stepped away from the table with Elsevier, saying they couldn’t agree to a deal. And now, University of California officials have announced their intention to make a deal with Springer Nature, the world’s second-largest publisher, to begin publishing the university system’s research as open-access by default. The deal starts in 2021 for a large number of the company’s journals—and puts UC on the path, at least, to do so for all its journals within two years, including its most prestigious ones, like Nature.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

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