We are thrilled to kick off the AHRECS blog together with our first go at Human Research Ethics and Research Integrity resources/links/downloads pages for Australia and New Zealand.
The four of us started AHRECS in 2007. We were looking for a way of responding to requests for advice on research ethics and integrity from the government, health and education sectors. Of course, we wanted to meet the immediate needs of clients. However, we also sought to work in a way that allowed us to learn from our colleagues, put a sensible price on our time, and spread the work between people and across time. By creating AHRECS, we built a network that stretched across Australasian and New Zealand and drew on the experiences of regulators, managers and researchers. We all shared a commitment on the one hand to building the capacity of organisations and their researchers to engage with ethics rather than simply comply with regulations, and on the other to challenge regulators to create guidelines that stimulated rather than constrained the ethical imagination.
Since 2007, we have worked with health authorities, Australian State and Federal governments, private and public higher education institutions in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, and funding bodies in Europe and Australia. We have prided ourselves that our relationship with these organisations has extended well beyond the length of our contract. Yes, we have sought to influence people, but we have also made friends, and these personal and professional networks have stimulated further reflection in our various roles as teachers, researchers, managers, regulators, commentators and consultants.
We want to give something back to these networks. We have become aware for a need to make it easier for colleagues in Australasian and New Zealand to share their experience and their experiences. Despite the ways technology has transformed social, professional and academic networks, and the degree to which most of us are online and ‘connected’, institutional and practice silos seem to hold us back from chatting about challenges and ideas. The end of the NHMRC’s biannual human research ethics conferences left a space incompletely filled by AEN events, HREC Chair roundtables, and local training days.
Our hope is that this blog will provide a useful forum for raising and responding to topical issues and challenges in human research ethics and research integrity, highlighting new ideas and strategies, and encouraging us to muse about what’s just over the horizon.
While AHRECS will host the blog, we don’t want it to be ‘just’ an AHRECS blog and so, in the coming months, we have invited guest posts by researchers (from a wide range of disciplines), ethics committee members/chairs/other reviewers, administrators/managers/trainers, journal editors and other commentators. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion for a guest blogger or want to volunteer to write a post of 300-500 words yourself.
If you haven’t done so already, we’d encourage you to visit the Useful Resources section and let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Well that’s it for now, but we look forward to hearing more from everyone over the next year.
Gary Allen, Colin Thomson, Mark Israel and Martin Tolich