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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Enhancing ethics review of social and behavioral research: developing a review template in Ethiopia (Papers: Liya Wassie, et al | August 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 1, 2019


Africa is increasingly becoming an important region for health research, mainly due to its heavy burden of disease, socioeconomic challenges, and inadequate health facilities. Regulatory capacities, in terms of ethical review processes, are also generally weak. The ethical assessment of social and behavioral research is relatively neglected compared to the review of biomedical and clinical studies, which led us to develop an ethics review assessment tool for use in the review of social and behavioral research in Ethiopia, which could potentially be of value in low- and middle-income settings.

Initially, we did a comprehensive literature review on principles, guidelines, and practices of research ethics, on social and behavioral studies, from which we extracted query terms to explore the opinions of selected key informants and focus groups in Ethiopia. The discussants and informants were selected using a convenience sampling method to evaluate an ethics review template, which integrated issues that commonly arise in social and behavioral studies. Finally, we directly solicited opinions from the discussants about the desirability, feasibility, acceptability, and relevance of the ethics review assessment tool and used the resulting data to refine our initial draft.

Results and conclusion:
Although the same basic ethics principles govern all research studies, social and behavioral research have some disciplinary particularities that may require reviewers to exercise a different orientation of ethical attention in some cases. Using a qualitative approach, we developed a review assessment tool that could potentially be useful to raise awareness, focus attention, and strengthen the review of social and behavioral studies by ethics review committees, particularly in settings without a long-standing tradition of reviewing such research. This process also exposed some areas where further capacity building and discussion of ethical issues may be necessary among stakeholders in the review of social and behavioral research.

Behavioral, social, qualitative, biomedical research, ethics review, low and middle income

Liya Wassie, Senkenesh Gebre-Mariam, Geremew Terekegne et al. (2019) Enhancing ethics review of social and behavioural research: Developing a review template in Ethiopia. Research Ethics 15(4) 1–23.
Publisher (Open Access):

International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) Code of ethics: Critical reflections on research ethics in situations of forced migration0

Posted by Admin in on August 18, 2019

Research with people in situations of forced migration poses particular ethical challenges because of unequal power relations, legal precariousness, extreme poverty, violence, the criminalization of migration, politicized research contexts, the policy relevance of our research and/or dependence on government and non-governmental services and funding. However, Research Ethics Boards (REBs) are not always aware of these particular ethical issues; some countries and institutions do not have REBs; and some kinds of research are not subject to REB approval. In this context of heightened risks of research, and uneven institutional accountability for research ethics, the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) hereby proposes this code of ethics for research with people in situations of forced migration. Similarly to how Indigenous research methodologies incorporate a broad, engaged and critical notion of ethics that recognizes power differentiations and the agency of the participants within exploitive research histories, this document sets forth principles that are starting points for respectful research.1 It is intended to reflect the broad diversity of our membership, including those involved in gathering information – whether in an academic or community setting – as well as those who are asked to take part in research. That being said, we acknowledge that this is not a comprehensive nor exhaustive document, but rather a starting point for active, critical engagement with ethical issues.

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Debriefing for ego threat may require more than we thought – Psychology & More (Dana C. Leighton, Ph.D. | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 7, 2019

When social psychologists manipulate a participant’s attitudes or beliefs, we have an ethical obligation to undo that manipulation. I explain it to my students as “putting the participant back the way we found them.” We frequently use a debriefing procedure, in the form of a written and/or (as in the case of my lab) verbal notice something to the effect of “yuk yuk, gosh, ya know what? we were just kidding. the thing you (read/did) was fake, we made it up, and it doesn’t mean anything.” Here is an example from the verbal debriefing script I used in a study several years ago that presented participants with a fake newspaper article about vandalism by University of Texas students.

I want to thank you for your participation here today and for your contribution to this project. We really appreciate your help with this work. Let me tell you a little bit about what we are trying to study.

First, we want to assure you that the incident you read about never happened on the campus. We created a fake newspaper article about it in order to better understand how people respond to these kinds of situations. To our knowledge, no University of Texas students have ever been involved in such an incident.

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The full article is behind a paywall, but here’s the reference:
Miketta, S., & Friese, M. (2019). Debriefed but still troubled? About the (in)effectiveness of postexperimental debriefings after ego threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication.

Research Ethics Governance – An African Perspective (Chapter: Marelize I. Schoeman | May 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 2, 2019

Governance structures in research are generally a retrospective response to unethical research practices. Similar to the international research landscape Africa has not been immune to human research abuses inclusive of unethical experimentation and clinical trials. An increase in research was noted in Africa this past decade in response to serious psychosocial and health-related challenges the continent faced. This increase in research has not necessarily brought about improvements in the governance and oversight of human research practices. In contrast, it increased the risk of exploitative research funded by resource-rich countries who conducted studies in Africa that would be difficult to conduct in countries with more established and strict research regulatory frameworks.

Even though the impact colonialism and the internationalisation of research had on ethics governance is recognised, African scholars is of the opinion that the debate about research ethics governance largely represents the opinions of scholars from Euro-western countries, with little contribution being made by African scholars. Against this background, the chapter presents an Afrocentric viewpoint of research ethics governance. In addition, Westernised and African research ethics practices and oversight structures were compared to identify challenges and guidelines. The research ethics governance landscape is to a large extent still an uncharted landscape creating the opportunity to develop a research ethics governance framework that acknowledges the unique humanistic morality and normative set of social rules and principles that guide the conduct of people in African societies. The chapter aims to make a significant contribution by stimulate critical discourse about the relevance of ethical principles and governance structures currently used in Africa.

Research ethics governance, Research ethics committees, Biomedical research, Social science research 

Schoeman M.I. (2019) Research Ethics Governance – An African Perspective. In: Nortjé N., Visagie R., Wessels J. (eds) Social Science Research Ethics in Africa. Research Ethics Forum, vol 7. Springer, Cham