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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Political Research and Human Research Ethics Committees (Papers: Anthony J. Langlois | 2011)0

Posted by Admin in on February 5, 2019

Human Research Ethics Committees have become an established part of the institutional structure of research in the humanities and social sciences over the last two decades in Australia, a development which many in the political disciplines have regarded with ambiguity or outright hostility. My purpose is to consider some of the particular problems which arise for the political disciplines from the form of research ethics review which has become institutionalised in Australia, and to suggest some reforms which would significantly ameliorate these problems.

My argument is that the conceptual framework on which research ethics review is built, and consequently the institutional model by which ethical review is applied within Australian universities is not appropriate to some forms of political research, with serious detrimental consequences. These consequences may include, but are not limited to: research findings being potentially skewed; research going underground or being undertaken in ways which diverge from what has been approved by committees; self censorship; disengagement with institutional research governance procedures; the generation of risk for researchers who are operating outside institutional approvals because they feel they “have to”; the construction of unnecessary prejudice against the legitimate aims of research ethics review procedures; and, finally, and most disturbingly, important and legitimate research not being undertaken.

Raise the issue of research ethics with a politics researcher in the hallways of any Australian university, and you are likely to meet with a litany of complaints which match in some measure or another my list above. Being a politics academic and – until recently -­‐ the chair of a university wide human research ethics committee, has been an interesting experience; one which has led me to offer the following analysis and suggestions for reform.

Anthony J. Langlois (2011) Political Research and Human Research Ethics Committees. Australian Journal of Political Science, 46:1, 141-156, DOI: 10.1080/10361146.2010.544287

The picture talk project: Aboriginal community input on consent for research (Papers: Emily FM Fitzpatrick, et al | 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 3, 2019


The consent and community engagement process for research with Indigenous communities is rarely evaluated. Research protocols are not always collaborative, inclusive or culturally respectful. If participants do not trust or understand the research, selection bias may occur in recruitment, affecting study results potentially denying participants the opportunity to provide more knowledge and greater understanding about their community. Poorly informed consent can also harm the individual participant and the community as a whole.

Invited by local Aboriginal community leaders of the Fitzroy Valley, the Kimberley, Western Australia, The Picture Talk project explores the consent process for research. Focus groups of Aboriginal community members were conducted to establish preferences for methods of seeking individual consent. Transcripts were analysed through NVivo10 Qualitative software using grounded theory with inductive and deductive coding. Themes were synthesised with quotes highlighted.

Focus groups with Aboriginal community members (n = 6 focus groups of 3–7 participants) were facilitated by a Community Navigator as a cultural guide and interpreter and a researcher. Participants were recruited from all main language groups of the Fitzroy Valley – Gooniyandi, Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka, Bunuba and Nikinya. Participants were aged ≥18 years, with 5 female groups and one male group. Themes identified include: Reputation and trust is essential; The Community Navigator is key; Pictures give the words meaning – milli milli versus Pictures; Achieving consensus in circles; Signing for consent; and Research is needed in the Valley.

Aboriginal communities of the Fitzroy Valley recommend that researchers collaborate with local leaders, develop trust and foster a good reputation in the community prior to research. Local Aboriginal researchers should be employed to provide cultural guidance throughout the research process and interpret local languages especially for elders. Pictures are preferred to written text to explain research information and most prefer to sign for consent. The Fitzroy Valley welcomes research when collaborative and for the benefit of the community. Future research could include exploring how to support young people, promote health screening and improve understanding of medical knowledge.

Research, Consent, Qualitative Methods, Aboriginal, Indigenous, Community, Focus Groups, Pictures, Yarning

Fitzpatrick EFM, Carter M, Oscar J, D’Antoine H, Carter M, Lawford T and Elliott EJ (2019) The picture talk project: Aboriginal community input on consent for research. BMC Medical Ethics (2019) 20:12
Publisher (Open Access):

Cribbing from Kribbe: UK criminology prof loses four papers for plagiarism – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | January 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 13, 2019

This item may seem of only very specific interest (relating as it does to criminological research in the UK), but we’ve decided to post it in the library because it relates to plagiarism after a colleague has left academia and it was caught some years after the fact.

A professor of criminology at Middlesex University London has had four papers retracted because at least three of them cribbed significantly from a PhD thesis written by someone named Kribbe.
Three of the four retractions for the professor, Anthony Amatrudo, appear in International Journal of Law in Context. One of the notices reads:

It has been brought to our attention that the above article (Amatrudo, D. (2012)) reuses sections of Hans Kribbe, Corporate Personality: A Political Theory of Association (2003) without permission or acknowledgement and has therefore been retracted. The author acknowledges this with regret.

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Reboot undergraduate courses for reproducibility – Nature (Katherine Button | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 12, 2018

Collaboration across institutes can train students in open, team science, which better prepares them for challenges to come, says Katherine Button.

Three years ago, as I prepared to start as a lecturer in the University of Bath’s psychology department, I reflected on my own undergraduate training. What should I emulate? What would I like to improve? The ‘reproducibility crisis’ was in full swing. Many of the standard research practices I had been taught were now shown to be flawed, from P-value hacking to ‘HARKing’ — hypothesizing after the results are known — and an over-reliance on underpowered studies (that is, drawing oversized conclusions from undersized samples).

It struck me that the research dissertation students do in their final year is almost a bootcamp for instilling these bad habits. Vast numbers of projects, limited time and resources, small sample sizes, the potential for undisclosed analytic flexibility (P-hacking) and a premium on novelty: together, a recipe for irreproducible results.

Most undergraduate dissertations turn into exercises tallying the limitations of the research design — frustrating for both student and supervisor. However, each year a few students get lucky and publish, securing a huge CV advantage. I wondered what lesson this was teaching. Were we embedding a culture that rewards chance results over robust methods?

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