What do HREC members think and do when deciding about children’s participation in social research? Results from the MESSI survey
In this guest post, Associate Professor Stephanie Taplin (UTS) reflects upon the reflections and attitudes of members of a research ethics committee when reviewing a project involving sensitive issues, where the participants are young people.
She reflects upon the degree that this consideration is based upon standards and expectations that are often not transparent to researchers and can be an impediment to useful/important research.
This post is based upon a longer research output that was about research exploring those attitudes.
This included whether there were topics that a research ethics committee member would never approve for a research project to explore with young people.
This work points to the need for specialist professional development for committee members relating to research on sensitive issues with young people.
This also raises the question of what guidance material institutions publish for researchers and for reference by research ethics reviewers.
Expertise in ethics, research ethics or review?
In this terrific and thoughtful post, Colin Thomson AM, a Senior Adviser to AHRECS, reflects on what we mean when we talk about expertise i the context of Human Research Ethics Review.
Do we mean expertise in ethics, research ethics or ethics review or a combination?
Do they fit together seamlessly and easily or is there an incongruence?
He frames these matters, when talking about research ethics committee members and research ethics reviewers across ten important categories.
He then suggests ten tests that could be usefully applied to evaluate the quality of review feedback.
How your institution’s research ethics committee and its review feedback fare if judged against this criteria?
Is it time they had some professional development? Does the Committee’s standard operating procedures need to be updated?
This is a valuable read for research ethics committee Chairs, Secretaries and members.
When it comes to the approach to human research ethics, did we buy London Bridge thinking it was Tower Bridge?
In this post, two experienced research ethics officers risk being decried as heretics by reflecting upon the justifications that are used for the current Human Research Ethics arrangements in countries around the world.
They use the sale of London Bridge in the Sixties and the urban myth that the US millionaire who bought it thought he was buying Tower Bridge, to ask, given the time, effort and resources expended on research ethics review, are we getting what we paid for?
There are genuine benefits that can flow from a well-conducted review process and they do justify the existence of those processes, but we should stop claiming those processes safeguard us against the criminal, unethical and reckless behaviour of the past.
They don’t and we should stop claiming in our professional development activities and resource material they do.
Why resourcing practice is a better option for institutions than policing compliance
In this post, Dr Gary Allen (one of the senior consultants at AHRECS) discusses why resourcing reflective practice is a more reliable and effective/constructive way to manage institutional risk than fixating on compliance and using an enforcement and sanctions approach.
Approaching the serious risks from within the frame of resourcing practice treats the role of research ethics as being to facilitate research, rather than being an impediment to research.
This embeds research ethics as being a component of the design and conduct of quality research, not as something external to research.
Systems that promote ethical design and conduct, are also investments in quality research
Gary has worked in the human research ethics field since 1997. He has worked with committees in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and Vietnam. He Chaired the Committee that drafted the new Chapter 3.1 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
Internal Human Research Ethics annual reporting
In this post Gary discusses the components of a good internal report from a research ethics committee to the governing body of the host institution.
Such reports should be produced annually.
A constructive report should provide a snapshot of the committee during the reported period.
The report should cover specific matters that are optional and strategic in nature.
An ethics argument for data sharing
In this post, Gary Allen and Nik Zeps explore the human research ethics arguments and imperatives that only allow for the sharing of data, but establish a public good that can make sharing expected and essential.
This expectation should shape the approach to consent, the framing of assurances given to potential participants about confidentiality and e reflected in the application for research ethics review.
Research ethics committees and review bodies should be cognisant of these ethical arguments during the research ethics review of projects
Institutions must have clear policies and guidance material on data sharing.
Research ethics reviews: responding to the challenges faced by international postgraduate students
In this great post, Mark Israel, Julia Miller, Liwen Tan and Kristy Davis discuss the extra challenges that confront international students when it comes to human research ethics and navigating research ethics review and the daunting challenge of satisfying an unsympathetic research ethics committee.
This scary rite of passage is made even harder if your native language doesn’t have direct translations for ethics terminology or if there are cultural concepts without direct correlation.
This is a matter that should be carefully considered by research ethics committees, research offices, international offices and graduate schools.
Areas of activity
We are delighted with how busy AHRECS is at the moment in the human research ethics and research integrity spheres in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Our current work can be broken down into four categories:
1. Informing the practice of a research institution
2. Fostering and supporting a community of practice
3. Helping with tricky questions
4. Formulating an approach
To discuss any of the above, contact one of our senior consultants, or send an email to Enquiry AHRECS email@example.com.
While our activities are focussed on Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and…
The Retraction Watch Database has launched. Here’s what you need to know
We’ve been anticipating the launch of the Retraction Watch database because we’re often asked by HDR candidates
Ethical use of visual social media content in research publications
At a research ethics workshop at the 2015 CSCW conference (Fiesler et al., 2015),
HREC decision-making about social research with children: the influence of payment, risk and method
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.
The inclusion of retracted trials in systematic reviews: implications for patients’ safety
After a paper has been through peer review and has been published it is