Having been involved in the daily operation of human research ethics and research integrity since the 1980s, our senior consultants have found it is often not easy for people located within an institution to judge how well their arrangements are working. It can also be difficult to for them to identify better practices in other organisations.
Every institution that engages in research should think about the effectiveness of its arrangements from time to time. In Australia, documents like the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research require it.
And yet, we commonly hear people saying ‘we do this because this how we’ve always done things’ or ‘we’d like to do more, but we are just managing to keep up with the work we have to do’. We understand this; we also know that sometimes the views of external consultants can reinforce what local ethics committees and research office staff have been saying to their host institutions.
AHRECS can conduct a desktop audit of your institution’s policies, processes, resource material and other arrangements (including research ethics review arrangements). The audit will be conducted by our expert consultants, be informed by international practice and be independent.
Our audits can include an assessment of previous research ethics review decisions and the feedback that an institution provides to applicants; the point is to inform similar reviews in the future, not revisit the earlier decision.
The desktop audit can explore specific questions or have a predefined objective you define.
The audit will be preceded by a meeting with key stakeholders, will result in a draft report that contains clear and practical recommendations, and a final report will be produced after feedback from the nominated stakeholders.
The cost of the audit will depend upon the volume of material, the complexity and diversity of the issues, the number of stakeholders to be consulted and the urgency for the completion of the desktop audit.
We have successfully conducted desktop audits for institutions of different sizes, maturity, structure and type. References from previous clients can be provided upon request.