Can reading Australian novels help us become more ethical researchers?
If someone asked you for some recommended reading or viewing to help them understand human research ethics, animal ethics or research integrity, what would you recommend?
The policies and standards issued by National governments, learned societies, funding bodies and academic publications are generally not especially engaging or entertaining.
In this blog post, Sally Dalton-Brown discusses a couple of options from the streaming and fiction publishing offerings.
They won’t exactly discuss, explain or define the principles of ethical or responsible conduct. Neither will they explain how to adhere to national requirements or instutiona policy. That isn’t surprising, but that is probably not the point. Entertainment, enjoyment and a bit of fun is a great way to engage people with the important elements of ethical and responsible behaviour in the design and conduct of research.
This material could be usefully included in the resource library for members of an institution’s research ethics committee.
The Code Breaker book review
In this post, AHRECS senior consultant, Erich von Dietze, does a review of an incredibly interesting book by Walter Isaacson.
The book, ‘Breaking the Code’ is a very engaging discussion and introduction to genetic research and the labs that work in this field.
The book focuses upon Jennifer Doudna and her collaborators.
The writing style is punchy, direct and it provides an easily digestible introduction to genetics concepts, science and technology.
Amongst the matters discussed is the technology CRISPR.
The author is a professor of history who has written several books including contemporary histories of science and technology.
The book is a recommended read for research Ethics committee members, secretaries and research offices.
It can be especially helpful for lay and other community members, as well as for researchers outside go to outside the genetics field.
We recommend its inclusion in the resource library for your institution’s research ethics committee. It can also be the basis of professional department for committee members.
2022 HREC Workshops
The Western Australian Human Research Ethics workshop series is back for 2022.
Friday 30 September 2022 – Human Ethics workshop
Interacting across boundaries: applying human research ethics in different situations.
The workshop is being hosted by the Research Office at Notre Dame University, Fremantle, in conjunction with AHRECS (Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services).
8.30am registration, 9.00am start, concluding after lunch.
Notre Dame Campus, Tannock Hall, Fremantle WA
Cost $170.00 per participant
There is an online registration available to persons based outside of Western Australia. On request, a special discount code for Zoom-only registration can be provided – please contact email@example.com if this interest you.
In this post, Erich provides an overview of the event, the guest speakers and the components of the workshop.
Register at . On request, a special discount code for Zoom-only registration can be provided – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if this interest you. The online component is open to registrants outside Western Australia.
Pursuing compliance or ethical excellence?
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.
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 challenge of being ‘fit for purpose’
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.
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.
Think of, and treat, consent as a powerful and complex verb, not a strictly defined and constrained noun
The notion of consent and the expectation researchers will seek the prior consent of participants has a long history in human research ethics.
It has been a feature of many of the most infamous ethical Breakers commerce stamps and scandals.
Consequently, it has become a baked in feature of most of the guidelines on human research ethics.
But is that a good thing?
The typical approach to consent in human research doesn’t really work for a number of circumstances, research designs or potential how to participant pools.
Long strict guidelines can compound the error and can risk alienating researchers.
A more nuanced approach that provides guidance on necessary features of consent material can be more helpful than template consent materials.
This is exactly the kind of approach that this called for by the National Statement in Australia
Why do we need Category D appointments on HRECs and how should we find suitable people?
Judith C S Redman The compulsory presence of the Category D members on Australian
The F-word, or how to fight fires in the research literature
Professor Jennifer Byrne | University of Sydney Medical School and Children’s Hospital at Westmead
Is having alternate/reserve members a helpful practice?
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.
Australian Code 2018: What institutions should do next
Gary Allen, Mark Israel and Colin Thomson At first glance, there is much to