Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Ethical Management of Data

Discuss what the management of data means in practice – for institutions, groups, individual researchers (including students), research partners and/or research participants.

Institutions: “Must and should” are described as compliance-based requirements in Part A and Part B of the Australian Code as it’s a stronger interpretation of what to include in the institutional code described as requiring several secretarial revisions and several committee reviews over three years and three months at UniSA Research and Innovation Services prior to being disseminated to the university research community in online format. Dr. Hochman explained that as the Code is broad in general principles and practice the institution needs to bring it to a procedural and “user friendly” scale on the institutional level. Interestingly Dr. Hockman revealed that as of the time of the interview there were no national audits of compliance which while of concern to the administration of ARC/NHRC grants there also remain no national misconduct investigation committees leaving a lot of the auditing to Research Ethics Committees at the institutional level.

Is it possible TEQSA might evolve to include a national ethical misconduct investigative branch?

Clarity before cash: Steve Matchett The Australian August 18, 2010

Groups: Need to be aware and in compliance with the necessary documents and guidelines, terms of mutual collaboration, and cooperation expected of them in the institution. Hockman mentions his own department, and in various disciplines, institutional staff, students all need to be aware of and in compliance with the Code through the university institutional code of research practice. Part of his role is providing updates on the latest changes to code compliance as well as evaluation of compliance.

Individual Researchers: Examples were given regarding terms of authorship forms which need to be submitted prior to publications to prevent post-publication disputes over authorship. He also gave evidence of streamlining repeated shared authorship processes and made the distinction that the Code does in fact differentiate between requirements made of institutions and individual researchers. He pointed out the importance of financial accountability to research integrity and the need for skilled grants applications which lead to approval.

Research Partners: Both Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Hockman shared examples of the collaboration relationships and necessary research partnership agreements processes that have been streamlined into short and standard two page partnership agreements (on a trial – has it become standard yet?) for low contention projects which allows the start time to quickly align with funding and approval processes rather than requiring six months of review and negotiation to complete while waiting to begin perhaps a three year grant funded research plan. At the same time more contentious projects could still be begun with rejoinders/amendments and addenda to complete the remaining points of the agreement at a later date allowing the research cycle to begin earlier.

Research Participants: He explained that some processes being introduced to many groups and researchers for the first time would benefit from online modular courses in research integrity and was hoping to set some up in the near future based on best practices among some US universities. Dr Hockman also explained the role of Human Research Ethics Committees and the streamlining of their proposals reviews and applications for research approval with a “Griffith Model” defining three levels of risk management: negligible/low /or great risk of ethical non-compliance with the Codes terms or the National Statement on Ethics. Research showed that as little as 15-20% of all research ethics approvals required committee based reviews so an online questionnaire type application was developed to streamline and speed up the approvals process for projects with negligible or low risk of unethical terms of research. Due to the process being researcher managed Dr. Hockman stated that spot checks and random audits mitigated the risk that research ethics approval applicants might misrepresent the ethics of their proposed research. In short all of this to ensure that participants are engaging in ethical research integrity.

No comments: