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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

REAlising a collegiate Research Ethics Adviser network0

 

By
Dr Gary Allen| Senior Consultant AHRECS| gary.allen@ahrecs.com
Dr Mark Israel| Senior Consultant AHRECS| mark.israel@ahrecs.com

Our research ethics consultancy activity in recent years has involved us working with a broad range of research institutions. Despite diversity in size, budget, age, geographical reach and mission, in some respects institutions face similar challenges, frustrations and risks. In relation to research ethics, the recurrent themes that we have noticed include:

  1. There being insufficient time and capacity to conduct professional development activities, especially activities focussed on the needs and experiences of schools, departments, research centres and research offices.
  2. A legacy of an adversarial climate, and distrust, between researchers, research ethics reviewers and the research office (Israel et al., 2016).
  3. Serious budgetary constraints.
  4. Difficulty in recruiting new members of the research ethics committee, especially from areas that do not have a long-standing connection to human research ethics or have had difficult experiences with research ethics review. This may be compounded by university initiatives to reshape their workforce in a way that prioritises research income and outputs.
  5. Review feedback needing to be detailed and long, but often receiving poor and aggressive responses.
  6. Difficulty in eliciting constructive, or sometimes any, response to internal or external consultations from some parts of the institution.

We have developed a strategy (Allen and Israel, 2018) that can form part of the response to these matters as part of a commitment to resourcing reflective practice. It draws on existing resources, fosters a better relationship between reviewers and researchers, helps target constructive feedback, builds the capacity of researchers to engage in ethical research, and prepares a new cohort of researchers to join the human research ethics committee.

SHORT BRIEFING PAPER ON REA NETWORKS

https://www.patreon.com/posts/24928731

Available to USD3/month patrons

A network of collegiate Research Ethics Advisers (REAs) enables a group of experienced researchers to act as a source of collegiate advice to other researchers in their area. Among the roles of a REA should be:
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  1. Involvement in facilitating professional development workshops and other activities in their area. This might initially involve them introducing sessions run by the university on particular aspects of research ethics pertinent to specific disciplines, commenting on the issues raised and engaging in discussion. Eventually, the entire activity might be facilitated by the REA. This strategy distributes leadership of human research ethics, and reinforces its important to quality research in their area, not ‘just’ a matter of complying with externally imposed rules.
  2. When applicants are sent complicated feedback, they might usefully be directed to consult their local REA before responding. This allows the review body to leave long written explanations to be complemented and explained by a more personal verbal explanation, and it should improve confidence that the applicant’s response will resolve the matter, rather than requiring another round of feedback.
  3. The REA network can serve as a conduit for information between researchers and reviewers, providing early warning to an institution when clashes might arise over methodology or changes in regulation.

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Having assisted a number of institutions to establish, appoint, provide professional development and support to REA networks, we have found the optimal appointment level to be at the school/team/department level with the number of REAs recruited from an area reflecting the number of researchers in that area who conduct human research.
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In our Patreon area, we have included:
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A briefing note about a standard operating procedure for a REA network with the heading Basic Structure, which provides a plan for the establishment and operation of a collegiate network.

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A subscription of USD 5/month will provide access to this material. A subscription of USD 15/month will provide access to all our Patreon materials. Contact us at Patreon@ahrecs.com to discuss.
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AHRECS would of course be delighted to help you turn those shells into documents tailored to your institution’s needs. We are also able to assist in the establishment and professional development of a collegiate REA network. Contact us at REA@ahrecs.comto discuss.

Figure 1 – A version of this image, which is not watermarked, is available from https://www.patreon.com/ahrecs with a USD3/month subscription.

References:

Allen, G and Israel, M (2018) Moving beyond Regulatory Compliance: Building Institutional Support for Ethical Reflection in Research. In Iphofen, R and Tolich, M (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Ethics. London: Sage. pp.276-288.

Israel, M, Allen, G and Thomson, C (2016) Australian Research Ethics Governance: Plotting the Demise of the Adversarial Culture. In van den Hoonaard, W and Hamilton, A (eds) The Ethics Rupture: Exploring Alternatives to Formal Research-Ethics Review. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp 285-316. http://www.utppublishing.com/The-Ethics-Rupture-Exploring-Alternatives-to-Formal-Research-Ethics-Review.html
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This post may be cited as:
Allen, G. &.Israel, M. (25 February 2019) REAlising a collegiate Research Ethics Adviser network. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/human-research-ethics/realising-a-collegiate-research-ethics-adviser-network

Ten ways of ensuring affordable professional development in your institution0

 

Research institutions have a responsibility under the Australian Code to ‘Provide ongoing training and education that promotes and supports responsible research conduct for all researchers and those in other relevant roles’ (Responsibility 4). Among other things, the National Statement requires that each member of an HREC (National Statement 5.2.3c) receives professional development.

Some institutions may feel that this places a significant burden on the staff responsible for and the funds available for human research ethics and integrity. It won’t surprise you to hear that AHRECS thinks it can help.

1. We have created an expanding suite of professional development resources for subscribers in Patreon. Many of our clients are happy for us to share materials that have been developed for their specific needs once they have had first use, knowing that they will also benefit from the generosity of our other clients as part of a community of practice. A subscription of USD15 per month (approx. AUD20) enables access to all materials; these can then be shared across your institution. You can see two examples of the resources here. See https://www.patreon.com/ahrecs  for more information and to subscribe.

2. AHRECS runs free webinars of panel-based discussions on pressing matters of general interest. Over the last year, speakers from the NHMRC, AHEC, AHRECS and various HRECs have spoken about how to respond to the new Australian Code and the changes to the National Statement.

3. AHRECS can provide face-to-face workshops of up to a day for HRECs, research ethics advisors, groups of researchers and professional staff. We’ve been doing this for CSIRO for over a decade. We also pre-record in-meeting professional development for HRECs across the country, supplementing these video resources with video-conferenced question and answer sessions. Our offerings in this regard start from $900 for the in-meeting activities to $2300 for a full day on-site workshop. Contents and format can be tailored to your institution’s specific needs.

4. AHRECS publishes the free Research Ethics Monthly. As readers know, REM includes topical items relating to human research ethics and research integrity. Your staff could also draw on their experience to contribute to REM as a way of engaging with and receiving feedback from the broader Australasian research ethics community.

5. Institutions could make greater use of their researchers who engage thoughtfully with research ethics matters. HRECs could invite them to speak about ethics at one of their meetings, and record this to create a library of video materials. AHRECS would be happy to host and share these materials across the sector.

6. AHRECS can provide either mentoring or on-call advice to human research ethics/research integrity officers, secretaries, chairs or senior research leaders via email, phone or video-link (this complements in-house expertise and provides affordable access to decades of human research ethics/research integrity experience)

7. We are happy to recommend purchasing the Griffith University Research Ethics Manual which, at $10,000 allows you to gain access to about two years-worth of resource development in human research ethics. AHRECS doesn’t receive any financial benefit from this#, but we can covert the GUREM to a resource that reflects the jurisdictional and institutional contexts within which your researchers operate. Over the last year, we’ve completed this work for ECU and have created video resources to help researchers make best use of the research ethics manual.

8. AHRECS can run a full Masters unit on social research ethics. We deliver this as an intensive each year in Perth in partnership with the University of Western Australia.

9. Institutions can designate a policy officer responsible for reviewing and disseminating relevant news, industry and professional websites, using Google alerts and research output monitoring to collect material of potential interest/value to the University’s research ethics reviewers, REAs and/or researchers. Some of this work is already done by AHRECS for anyone subscribing to its free news service. The vast majority of links are either directly relevant to Australia or are otherwise of interest to the Australian research ethics community. When items are added, an alert+link is posted to our social media pages (LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook).

10. Ten sounds so much better than nine, doesn’t it? If you have a crash-hot idea about professional development that you want to share with other people in the sector, please suggest a piece for Research Ethics Monthly.

# Dr Gary Allen is the principal author of the GUREM so does receive a component of the license fee.

Contributor
Mark Israel, AHRECS Senior Consultant
Mark’s profilemark.israel@ahrecs.com

Israel, M. (21 December 2018) Ten ways of ensuring affordable professional development in your institution (2018). Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/ahrecs-admin/ten-ways-of-ensuring-affordable-professional-development-in-your-institution

 

Beneficence as a Principle in Human Research0

 

Pieper, I. & Thomson, C.J.H. (2016) Beneficence as a Principle in Human Research. Monash Bioethics Review. 34: 117. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40592-016-0061-3

A Series on the Four Principles of the Australian National Statement on Ethics Conduct in Human Research

In this issue of the Research Ethics Monthly, Ian Pieper and Colin Thomson continue their series of short summaries of each of their four co-authored articles on the principles that underpin the Australian National Statement, namely, research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence and respect.

The articles were originally published in the Monash Bioethics Review and remain available to subscription holders to that journal. The publisher, Springer, has generously agreed to place each of the four articles on Free Access for one month after the corresponding short summary is published in the Research Ethics Monthly. Last month they revisited their paper entitled The value of respect in human research ethics: a conceptual analysis and a practical guide. This month they revisit the paper exploring the principle of beneficence in the context of human research. The full paper can be found here.

Beneficence is one of the four values and principles on which the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (National Statement) is founded. A requirement for beneficence to be demonstrably present in human research is not a uniquely Australian consideration but is found in many of the human research ethics guidance documents from around the world. Beneficence is an important consideration in that it mirrors the altruistic nature of the voluntary nature of participation in human research.

Being a positive virtue, beneficence is a moral ideal and considerations of it as a principle during the design and ethical assessment of a research project can be seen as subjective. This can make beneficence difficult to identify within research proposals. As a principle which promotes good or charitable outcomes, over and above those imposed by duty, it is not merely synonymous with non malfeasance. Beneficence is the provision of benefits over and above the costs associated with the burdens of research.

This paper provides some clarity for researchers and Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) members on the role that beneficence plays in discussions about human research ethics. While applying beneficence in human research does involve consideration of risks and benefits to participants, consideration should also extend to individuals, groups, and communities not directly involved in the research

This paper also provides both researchers and HREC members with practical guidance on the application of beneficence in the design, review and conduct of ethical human research. This guidance does not consider beneficence in isolation but places it within the context of the other principles and the National Statement as a whole.

Ian and Colin have produced an activity sheet to accompany this post. It can be found in the subscribers’ area (https://www.patreon.com/ahrecs). A subscription of only USD15/month (approx AUD21/month) provides access to a growing library of activity items, reflections on papers and news, and other resource items. At least two items are added to the library every month.  These are shared on a creative commons basis, so you are free to use them internally without otherwise engaging AHRECS. These items would ordinarily cost more than AUD500. So becoming an AHRECS patron not only helps AHRECS stay a constructive voice for change it’s a way to get access some terrific items for a great price.

Email gary.allen@ahrecs.com for further information.

Contributors:
Ian Pieper, AHRECS Consultant, Ian’s AHRECS profile
Colin Thomson AM, AHRECS Senior Consultant, colin.thomson@ahrecs.com | Colin’s AHRECS profile

This post may be cited as:
Pieper, I & Thomson C. (23  November 2018) Beneficence as a Principle in Human Research. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/human-research-ethics/beneficence-as-a-principle-in-human-research

We invite debate on issues raised by items we publish. However, we will only publish debate about the issues that the items raise and expect that all contributors model ethical and respectful practice.

It’s not too late to register for today’s free webinar about the 2018 update to the National Statement0

Posted by Admin in Human Research Ethics on November 21, 2018 / Keywords: , , ,
 

Details about the event below. While we hope to see you there in a few days we’ll add a recording of the event to our website.

To register for this event visit
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vwIWL16YT4S-lkMOXAxVtQ

Date Panel members Questions
National Statement  22/11/18
14:30 AEDT
MODERATOR
Mark Israel
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Jeremy Kenner 
(NHMRC)
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Wendy Rodgers (Chair NSRWG, Macquarie University)
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Pamela Henry, ECU HREC Chair
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Gary Allen (AHRECS, C0-chair of the committee that
drafted  the new Chapter 3.1 of the National
Statement)
 

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1. Jeremy, what’s new and why does it matter?
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2. Wendy, how could researchers use
and benefit from the changes?
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3. Pam, how could HRECs use and
benefit from the changes?
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4. Gary, what’s scary about the changes?

 

New South Wales Thursday, 22 November at 2:30:00 pm AEDT UTC+11 hours
Western Australia Thursday, 22 November at 11:30:00 am AWST UTC+8 hours
Australian Capital Territory Thursday, 22 November at 2:30:00 pm AEDT UTC+11 hours
Queensland Thursday, 22 November at 1:30:00 pm AEST UTC+10 hours
South Australia Thursday, 22 November at 2:00:00 pm ACDT UTC+10:30 hours
Northern Territory Thursday, 22 November at 1:00:00 pm ACST UTC+9:30 hours
Victoria/Tasmania Thursday, 22 November at 2:30:00 pm AEDT UTC+11 hours
New Zealand Thursday, 22 November at 4:30:00 pm NZDT UTC+13 hours

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The panels run for 45 minutes. Each panellist has been asked to speak for five minutes on a particular question.

The panels will include a discussion of how institutions and researchers might best respond to the new Australian Code. The discussion will be partly based on

1. Questions submitted in advance to NSburningquestion@ahrecs.com – please consider doing so now, as it may allow panellists to provide you with better prepared answers

2. questions raised through the Q&A feature on Zoom

You’ll need to make sure that you have Zoom as an app on your device or access to Zoom on the internet. Login details will be sent to registrants.

You’ll have access to a website page after the seminar where panellists may leave further materials. We’ll also be distributing a questionnaire asking you about what worked, what didn’t work and what you’d like future sessions to cover.

I look forward to you joining the audience online.

Prof. Mark Israel
Moderator and AHRECS senior consultant

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