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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

COPE Forum 2 June 2020: What does peer review mean in the arts, humanities and social sciences? – COPE (June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 30, 2020
 

The topic for discussion at our June 2020 COPE Forum asked the question: are there differences in gender and diversity issues in arts, humanities, and social sciences in peer review from other disciplines?

In the recent study by COPE in collaboration with Taylor & Francis on the arts, humanities and social science (AHSS) disciplines, respondents focused on a number of language, quality, diversity and inclusivity issues. In terms of the most frequently identified issues, these were:

1. Addressing language and writing quality barriers while remaining inclusive
2. Issues around the way in which authors receive and respond to criticism
3. Detecting plagiarism and poor attribution standards
4. Issues handling responses from reviewers to authors
5. Issues of self-plagiarism
6. Difficulties in upholding anonymity to authors and/or reviewers during peer review
7. Recognising and dealing with bias in reviewer comments
8. Assuring fair representation of new voices and diverse perspectives
9. Potential conflict of interest between authors and reviewers
10. Managing complaints and appeals

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The Opportunity Cost of Compulsory Research Participation: Why Psychology Departments Should Abolish Involuntary Participant Pools (Papers: Ruth Walker | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 23, 2020
 

Abstract

A widespread practice in psychology schools around the globe that needs to end.

Psychology departments often require undergraduates to participate in faculty and graduate research as part of their course or face a penalty. Involuntary participant pools (human subject pools) in which students are compulsorily enrolled are objectively coercive. Students have less autonomy than other research participants because they face a costly alternative task or the penalties that accompany failure to meet a course requirement if they choose not to participate. By contrast, other research participants are free to refuse consent without cost or penalty. Some researchers claim that the educational value of participation justifies the requirement. They treat coercion as a cost that can be outweighed by the benefits to students. This paper argues that such an approach is flawed because coercion is not like other costs and that educational value is inherently low relative to personal study or classroom time. The unethical nature of involuntary participation is best demonstrated with an opportunity cost analysis. This shows that students are forced to sacrifice higher value alternatives that they have paid to do and undertake a lower value activity that principally benefits others. Faculty have a conflict of interest as they are the beneficiaries of student coercion in their role as researchers and responsible for student achievement in their role as teachers. Voluntary participant pools can resolve this conflict but at the cost of reducing the supply of participants. A change in departmental research conduct is required to restore the autonomy of students who are competent adults and not legitimate subjects of paternalism when it comes to research participation.

Keywords
Human subject pools, Coercion, Psychology, Research, Undergraduates

Walker, R. (2020) The Opportunity Cost of Compulsory Research Participation: Why Psychology Departments Should Abolish Involuntary Participant Pools. Science and Engineering Ethics  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-020-00232-2

‘It’s never okay to say no to teachers’: Children’s research consent and dissent in conforming schools contexts (Papers: Perpetua Kirby | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 11, 2020
 

Abstract

With thanks to Dr Jo-Anne Kelder, University of Tasmania for suggesting this great paper.  This is a recommended read for researchers and research ethics reviewers.

This article examines the limits to children giving research consent in everyday school contexts that emphasises their conformity to comply with adult expectations, and highlights children’s competence and agency in navigating this conformity through different practices of dissent. It draws on research into children’s agency, using a multimodal ethnography of Year 1 classrooms in two English primary schools. The article includes a reflexive methodological focus, exploring the extent to which I counter the schools’ emphasis on conformity. This includes creating visuals for children to practice consent; positioning myself as the researcher in a non‐teacher role, as ‘least adult’ and the one who ‘least knows’; and designing interview spaces markedly different from classrooms. The article examines how children navigate conforming discourses by finding different ways to dissent in the research. Firstly, children demonstrate a sophisticated awareness of the cultural norms of indicating refusals beyond saying the word ‘No’. Secondly, children achieve unnoticeablity, by which they absent themselves from the ‘on‐task’ classroom culture, and by extension the research process. Thirdly, they engage in playful dissent, demonstrating their political knowingness of the classroom social order. The article discusses the implications for educational research when the values of consent are in conflict with a schooling focused on conformity. This includes emphasising the limits of consent procedures, paying closer attention to how researchers recognise and respond ethically to children’s multiple practices of dissent, and using research to disrupt problematic power structures in education settings that limit possibilities for children’s consent.

Kirby, P. (2020), ‘It’s never okay to say no to teachers’: Children’s research consent and dissent in conforming schools contexts. British Educational Research Journal. doi:10.1002/berj.3638
Publisher (Open Access): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/berj.3638

Open Peer Review in the Humanities – Scholarly Kitchen (Seth Denbo | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 13, 2020
 

Editor’s Note:  Today’s post is by Seth Denbo, Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives at the American Historical Association.

Open peer review hasn’t caught on in the humanities. Nearly ten years ago, a few notable experiments attracted the attention of the New York Times. The “Web Alternative to the Venerable Peer Review,” as the headline in the print edition on August 24, 2010 dubbed it, was presented as an innovation that would revolutionize the way scholars evaluated each other’s work. Breathlessly excited about the potential of web-based open review for “generating discussion, improving works in progress, and sharing information rapidly,” the Times contrasted this with what was presented as the purely “up-or-down judgment” of customary review practices. Openness was said to be central to the attractiveness of these new forms of peer review.

Flash forward to the present, and little widespread change in humanities peer review has occurred. Many articles on peer review have pointed out that the systematic practices we think of as central to scholarship and scholarly communication evolved as recently as the mid-20th century. Melinda Baldwin has written on how peer review did not come to be seen as necessary for scholarly legitimacy until the Cold War. Ben Schmidt has shown that the phrase “peer review” doesn’t enter the lexicon until the 1970s. Despite the relative recent emergence of systematic practices, peer review is central to scholarship. And, within a range of different ways of organizing review and masking the identity of author, reviewer, or both, a more-or-less closed process still dominates in humanities journals and book publishing. These long-standing practices still seem to provide editors with the evaluation they require to maintain quality and the feedback that assists authors in improving their work. Alex Lichtenstein, editor of the American Historical Review (AHR), recently wrote “as an editor I especially value the developmental as well as evaluative role” provided by the current double-blind peer review practices and structures that he directs as editor.

Despite his commitment to double-blind review, Lichtenstein is overseeing the AHR’s first foray into experimenting with open review. “History Can be Open Source: Democratic Dreams and the Rise of Digital History” by Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright is currently posted on ahropenreview.com for an open, public comment period that will run until early April. In parallel, the editors have invited several reviewers to submit more traditional peer reports. Those reviewers have been given the option of anonymity, but their reviews will be public.

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