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Why research ethics should add retrospective review (Papers: Angus Dawson, et al | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 26, 2019
 

Abstract
Research ethics is an integral part of research, especially that involving human subjects. However, concerns have been expressed that research ethics has come to be seen as a procedural concern focused on a few well-established ethical issues that researchers need to address to obtain ethical approval to begin their research. While such prospective review of research is important, we argue that it is not sufficient to address all aspects of research ethics. We propose retrospective review as an important complement to prospective review. We offer two arguments to support our claim that prospective review is insufficient. First, as currently practiced, research ethics has become for some a ‘tick box’ exercise to get over the ‘hurdle’ of ethics approval. This fails to capture much of what is important in ethics and does not promote careful reflection on the ethical issues involved. Second, the current approach tends to be rules-based and we argue that research ethics should go beyond this to develop people’s capacity to be sensitive to the relevant moral features of their research, their ethical decision-making skills and their integrity. Retrospective review of a project’s ethical issues, and how they were addressed, could help to achieve those aims better. We believe that a broad range of stakeholders should be involved in such retrospective review, including representatives of ethics committees, participating communities and those involved in the research. All stakeholders could then learn from others’ perspectives and experiences. An open and transparent assessment of research could help to promote trust and understanding between stakeholders, as well as identifying areas of agreement and disagreement and how these can be built upon or addressed. Retrospective review also has the potential to promote critical reflection on ethics and help to develop ethical sensitivity and integrity within the research team. Demonstrating this would take empirical evidence and we suggest that any such initiatives should be accompanied by research into their effectiveness. Our article concludes with a discussion of some possible objections to our proposal, and an invitation to further debate and discussion.

Dawson, A., Lignou, S., Siriwardhana, C. and O’Mathúna, D.P. (2019) Why research ethics should add retrospective review. BMC Medical Ethics 20: 68
Publisher (Open Access): https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12910-019-0399-1

(Australian case) A researcher with 30 retractions and counting: The whistleblower speaks – Retraction Watch (Artemisia Stricta | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 24, 2019
 

Retraction Watch readers who have been following our coverage of retractions by Ali Nazari may have noticed that an anonymous whistleblower was the person who flagged the issues for journals and publishers. That whistleblower uses the pseudonym Artemisia Stricta, and we’re pleased to present a guest post written by him or her.

Something is seriously out of place with the roughly 200 publications by Ali Nazari, a scientist at Swinburne University who studies structural materials. Some of these problems have been known by journals and publishers for years — some since 2012 — yet their response has been mixed. Some have retracted papers. Some have decided not to, so far. And others have been mum.

The issues are serious enough to call into question the reliability of Nazari’s entire body of work. During 2010-2012, around 30 of Nazari’s papers duplicated images from Li et al. 2004, reporting that the materials had been produced by his group. The images, whose scale, orientation, brightness and contrast has been changed from the originals, reportedly represented materials different from those in Li et al.

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Scientists ‘may have crossed ethical line’ in growing human brains – The Guardian (Ian Sample | )0

Posted by Admin in on October 22, 2019
 

Debate needed over research with ‘potential for something to suffer’, neuroscientists say

Neuroscientists may have crossed an “ethical rubicon” by growing lumps of human brain in the lab, and in some cases transplanting the tissue into animals, researchers warn.

The creation of mini-brains or brain “organoids” has become one of the hottest fields in modern neuroscience. The blobs of tissue are made from stem cells and, while they are only the size of a pea, some have developed spontaneous brain waves, similar to those seen in premature babies.

Many scientists believe that organoids have the potential to transform medicine by allowing them to probe the living brain like never before. But the work is controversial because it is unclear where it may cross the line into human experimentation.

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(Australia) UNSW skin cancer researcher Levon Khachigian hit with string of retractions – ABC News (Elise Worthington and Kyle Taylor | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 20, 2019
 

Levon Khachigian cuts an imposing figure in the hallways of the UNSW School of Medical Sciences.

This disheartening case isn’t the first time it has been suggested an independent national body should investigate allegations of research misconduct, that Australia’s approach has an inherent conflict of interest problem and something needs to change.

The 55-year-old cell biologist rose to the top of the university’s academic hierarchy, on a salary package once worth more than $250,000 a year.
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In the elite world of academia, where prestige is driven by publication in top scientific journals and research funding is scarce, Professor Khachigian has been a big earner, bringing more than $23 million in funding to the university over his three-decade career.

The cancer and cardiovascular researcher was once regarded as a rising star on the brink of a breakthrough treatment for skin cancer.
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Professor Khachigian is the winner of multiple Eureka prizes, widely regarded as the “Oscars” of Australian science, and once told a newspaper that the toughest part of the job was “when a research paper is rejected for publication on whimsical grounds”.

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