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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

An Alternative Ethics? Justice and Care as Guiding Principles for Qualitative Research (Papers: Martyn Hammersley and Anna Traianou 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on August 22, 2016

The dominant conception of social research ethics is centred on deontological and consequentialist principles. In place of this, some qualitative researchers have proposed a very different approach. This appeals to a range of commitments that transform the goal of research as well as framing how it is pursued. This new ethics demands a participatory form of inquiry, one in which the relationship between researchers and researched is equalized. In this paper we examine this alternative approach, focusing in particular on two of the principles that are central to it: justice and care. We argue that there are some significant defects and dangers associated with this new conception of research ethics.

Keywords: Research Ethics, Qualitative Research, Justice, Care, Participatory Inquiry

Hammersley M & Traianou A (2014) An Alternative Ethics? Justice and Care as Guiding Principles for Qualitative Research. Sociological Research Online, 19 (3), 24 DOI: 10.5153/sro.3466

Situational Ethics: Re-thinking Approaches to Formal Ethics Requirements for Human-Computer Interaction (Papers: Cosmin Munteanu et al)0

Posted by Admin in on August 9, 2016

Most Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) researchers are accustomed to the process of formal ethics review for their evaluation or field trial protocol. Although this process varies by country, the underlying principles are universal. While this process is often a formality, for field research or lab-based 

This great paper uses real case studies to reflect on situational ethics in HCI research, but also issues that commonly come up in qualitative research, field studies and participant directed designs (including consent, privacy, what potential participants care about, and variations to accommodate the wishes of potential participants.

 studies with vulnerable users, formal ethics requirements can be challenging to navigate — a common occurrence in the social sciences; yet, in many cases, foreign to HCI researchers. Nevertheless, with the increase in new areas of research such as mobile technologies for marginalized populations or assistive technologies, this is a current reality. In this paper we present our experiences and challenges in conducting several studies that evaluate interactive systems in difficult settings, from the perspective of the ethics process. Based on these, we draft recommendations for mitigating the effect of such challenges to the ethical conduct of research. We then issue a call for interaction researchers, together with policy makers, to refine existing ethics guidelines and protocols in order to more accurately capture the particularities of such field-based evaluations, qualitative studies, challenging lab-based evaluations, and ethnographic observations.


Keywords: Ethics; Research protocol; Field studies; Situational ethics; Vulnerable populations.


Munteanu C, Molyneaux H, Moncur W, Romero M, O’Donnell S and Vine J (2015) Situational Ethics: Re-thinking Approaches to Formal Ethics Requirements for Human-Computer Interaction at the 2nd 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Proceedings pp 105-114 ACM New York, NY, USA ©2015  ISBN: 978-1-4503-3145-6 doi>10.1145/2702123.2702481.

Resourcing reflective practice – whiteboard video0

Posted by Admin in on July 27, 2016

The AHRECS team is thrilled to share this seven-and-a-half minute video about the value and importance of resourcing the reflective practice of research, rather than focussing on enforcing compliance with rules.

Be a voice for constructive change! Please promote this video throughout your networks.

Please contact us by emailing if you want help in moving your institution move to a resourcing reflective practice approach.

The script for this whiteboard was written by Dr Gary Allen and it is spoken by Adj Prof Mark Israel. It was produced for us by the very talented BethanyDivaa through

Facebook’s Research Ethics Board Needs to Stay Far Away from Facebook – Wired (Zoltan Boka June 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on June 26, 2016

CHANCES ARE, YOU’RE on Facebook right now. About 1.7 billion people—almost a quarter of the world’s population—actively use the social media platform . And though it’s free, Facebook isn’t charity. It has a product, and that product is you and me. The company cleared a tidy $5.2 billion from user-directed ads in the first quarter of 2016 alone.

To keep that business running, Facebook doesn’t just need users: It needs active, engaged users. Facebook needs to get in your head, to understand how you’ll respond to a product or an offer or a marketing campaign—and more and more, it’s using internal experiments to predict those behaviors. But using those methods, commonly referred to as neuromarketing, means that Facebook needs to address the same ethical questions other behavioral scientists do.

In 2014, Facebook undertook an experiment on more than half a million of its users, manipulating feeds so some people saw more positive posts while others were exposed to a more negative stream. The moods were contagious: Those who saw more good news wrote happier posts and those who saw more bad news wrote sadder posts. But Facebook didn’t ask its users permission to do this; it has argued that their terms of service allows it to structure what you see. The blowback was massive, with some wondering whether the experiment pushed depressed users towards suicide. In response, Facebook has recently decided to draw on an essential element of ethics in behavioral science: an Institutional Review Board.

Read the full opinion piece