ACN - 101321555 Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Resource Library

Research Ethics MonthlyAbout Us

ResourcesHuman Research EthicsDid a study of Indonesian people who spend most of their days under water violate ethical rules? – Science (Dyna Rochmyaningsih | July 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Did a study of Indonesian people who spend most of their days under water violate ethical rules? – Science (Dyna Rochmyaningsih | July 2018)

Published/Released on July 26, 2018 | Posted by Admin on August 14, 2018 / , , , , , , ,
 


View full details | Go to resource


In April, a paper showing why Indonesia’s Bajau people are such great divers drew worldwide attention as a striking example of recent human evolution. But the study, published in Cell, has created a different kind of stir in Indonesia, where some say it is an example of “helicopter research” carried out by scientists from rich countries with little consideration for local regulations and needs.

When conducting research in another country it is essential to rigorously determine what local research ethics arrangements and regulations apply to your planned work. While a local contact/assistant can be helpful (sometimes essential for respecting local traditions and protocols) a researcher experienced in the relevant (sub)discipline/design is more likely to be able to alert you to the jurisdiction’s ethical and legal requirements.

“Too many mistakes were made here,” says geneticist Herawati Sudoyo, who heads the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta. Indonesian officials say the research team failed to obtain ethical approval from a local review board and took DNA samples out of the country without the proper paperwork. And some Indonesian scientists complain that the only local researcher involved in the study had no expertise in evolution or genetics. But Eske Willerslev, director of the University of Copenhagen’s (KU’s) Centre for GeoGenetics, says the team he headed had a permit from the Indonesian government and worked hard to follow the rules. “I would never participate in research that I felt was unethical,” Willerslev says. The government hasn’t informed him about problems, he says, but, “If we have made an error that violates national or international guidelines, we would like to apologize for that.”
.

The issue escalated in late May, when Pradiptajati Kusuma, a geneticist at the Eijkman Institute who has also studied the Bajau, suggested in a tweet that the team could have faced prosecution under strict new rules on foreign research, proposed by the Indonesian government and now under debate. “Jail? Possible,” Kusuma wrote. He later deleted the tweet, but Melissa Ilardo, the Cellstudy’s first author, says she was so rattled that she canceled a July trip to Indonesia during which she planned to inform the Bajau about her study. “I did everything I could to conduct this research ethically and properly, and this is breaking my heart,” says Ilardo, a Ph.D. student at KU at the time of the fieldwork and now at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
.

Read the rest of this discussion piece



Resources Menu

Research Integrity


Human Research Ethics

0