In this very practical talk, AHRECS senior consultant, Gary discusses the positive and constructive ways in which a research ethics committee Chair can set the tone of the meeting.
Committees can, and should, have a role beyond the normal operational tasks (e.g. confirmation of the minutes), research ethics review (including the framing of review feedback) and involvement in the institutions approach to professional development for its research community.
The Chair has an essential role in regards to how the committee utilises national and institutional guidance material that frames the conduct reviews and the ethical design/conduct of research projects.
They can usefully also guide the committee towards constructive handling of matters such as conflicts of interest and typographical errors in the material submitted to the committee.
AHRECS has considerable experience in working with research institutions in this area, including mentoring for Chairs and Secretaries, coaching for committees and professional development.
In this incredibly helpful and practical post, Erich von Dietze (a senior consultant at AHRECS) reflects on the considerations, benefits and potential challenges when trying to structure your ethics committee (whether human research or Animal Ethics).
Like many matters in research governance (especially Human Research Ethics and Animal Ethics), there is no simple answer that is always right. Saving time and impediments in one area, can create more and introduce delays in another.
Erich discusses the options and explores the issues that require consideration.
Getting this right can mitigate against unexpected member absences, committee continuity and maintain the expertise and readiness of members.
Acting rashly can cause problems, take time and use up resources.
This item is a recommended read for research office staff, a secretaries, committee chairs and members.
In this great and very helpful post, Gary and Kim (from AHRECS) looks at the benefits of institutions establishing and keeping updated a register of their members.
Such a register could track, when a member was appointed to the committee, when their appointment is up for renewal and the maximum finish date for their appointment. It should also track the dates on which the member has participated in professional development.
Such a register can be a component of good governance with regards to the membership of a research ethics committee.
Maintaining a register of when members have participated in professional development activities can be a great way of reinforcing the expectation that members will regularly participate in professional development. There is of course a reciprocal obligation that institutions regularly conduct internal and fund participation and external professional development activities.
It is good practice for institutions to maintain a public register of the declaration of interest from members. At the very least, such a register should be easily accessible by members of the committee, but it is also recommended that the register be publicly available. Members should be encouraged to at least lodge their interests when they are first appointed and when their membership is renewed.
In this short post AHRECS consultant, Amanda Fernie discusses the animal ethics services that AHRECS now provides and are experienced in, in this complex and important area of research governance.
Amanda is one of the recent additions to the AHRECS team.
She brings considerable experience as someone who has worked as an animal ethics officer and as a manager of a Research Ethics and Research Integrity team.
Even more than is a case for Human Research Ethics, Animal Ethics is an area that cannot be purely approached as a matter of technical regulation where researchers and institutions must comply with relevant laws and ethical codes. This is NOT a useful approach to Animal Ethics. It also unlikely to prompt researchers to approach the topic in a way that it thoughtful, reflective and engaged.
Considering matters such as the sufficiency of environmental enrichment and techniques is not merely a matter of whether a proposed approach complies with the law. It requires a far more thoughtful reflection on animal welfare and respect. What was appropriate 20 years ago is unlikely to be acceptable now.
The AHRECS team brings together considerable experience and insight into international best practice.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss how we can assist your institution.
In Australia or another country outside of Africa, would institution link to material about Ubuntu ethics? Especially if the institution isn’t doing a great deal of research in Africa.
In this post, Gary reflects on the argument that material should be included in an institution’s Human Research Ethics resource library, even if doing so, won’t be necessary to archive compliance with the national ethics guidelines/standards/regulations. In fact, he argues that precisely because it is not required, they should be included.
Gary refers to a podcast and a journal article that have recently been included in the AHRECS resource library, as examples of material that should be included in institutional resource libraries.
The point here is that material should be included if it would support excellent ethical conduct, irrespective of whether it would help demonstrate that the institution complies with the national standards – such as the National Statement in Australia.
In this post, Michael Creevey (the CEO of Endpoint IQ) discusses the effective and constructive use of research management systems, including research ethics modules.
He discusses how a system can be used to resource and support a positive research culture within an institution.
Effective systems should provide the tools so users and their stakeholders can operate a constructive and value adding set of research governance arrangements (including Human Research Ethics, Animal Ethics and the related processes).
Michael discusses the origins of Endpoint IQ and how it was informed by the perspectives, needs and aspirations of research managers and researchers in Australia.
AHRECS is very conscious of the degree to which we have a conflict of interest in this space, but we think the Endpoint IQ system is excellent and is worth a serious look. We have an ongoing good relationship with Michael and the Endpoint IQ team, we have also partnered with them in bids in New Zealand. We also have a small financial connection to them. This conflict notwithstanding, we encourage research institutions to have a serious look at this system.
Even though Endpoint IQ is an excellent system, there are a number of other research management systems that are commendable and can perform similar (but not identical) functions to those of Endpoint IQ.
In her latest thought-provoking post Stephanie Taplin reflects on social research with children/young adults and the impact of offering them incentives in the form of payments.
These matters have been controversial for research ethics committee and resulted in a block of items in the review feedback from the reviewing committee/s.
Despite the authority provided by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (NHMRC, 2007, updated 2018) HRECs can be nervous about approving such research with incentives.
Despite this difficulty for reviewers, incentives in the form of payments definitely increases the chances that a young person will respond to a recruitment strategy.
Stephanie’s work has highlighted the degree to which a review body may be more comfortable with the offer of a chance to win and an incentive in a prize draw, at values over ten times as high as the direct incentive payment.
Another area of tension between the preferences of review body and young people is the difference between face-to-face interviews and anonymous questionnaires.
In this post Stephanie reflects on why researchers should engage with HRECs on these matters, rather than choose a path most likely to be accepted immediately by a committee.
In this incredibly interesting post, Racheal Laugery reflects on an incredibly uncomfortable but very timely question.
Is the current approach to research ethics review fit for purpose?
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, border closes and reduced international student income, insufficient government funding and a drive towards commercial research/commercialisation is our current approach to research ethics review Imbil and responsive enough?
What needs to be challenged and
changed? How can we get there? Who will need professional development and capacity building?
This requires an approach to reform that is focused on research ethics reviewers, researchers and research office staff.
Change won’t be quick and easy, but is absolutely necessary to ensure an institution’s arrangements are fit for the time.
Our approach will need to be interactive and responsive to problems that we can’t foresee yet.
Release of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (updated 2018) – With interview
The revised National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (updated 2018) was
For anyone that has been paying even the slightest attention to scholarly publishing over
In response to community feedback, from 1 November 2020, only papers, books and genuine resources will be posted to the AHRECS Resource Library; news and announcements will be posted to the feeds page. Searches of the site can include searches of the feed. Links to Research Ethics Monthly editions will also be posted to the feeds page. Please bear with us as we move all existing news items over to the feed. Eventually, this approach will make it easier to distinguish between research outputs and news items about human research ethics and research integrity.
The pedagogy of teaching research methods, let alone research ethics, is an under-researched field.