Friday, January 25, 2013

British Government Denies Conducting Research

I have reported in the past on the ability of U.S. federal officials to avoid IRB review of their work by asserting that they are not conducting research, even as university scholars doing the same kind of work face sanctions if they proceed without IRB approval.

It turns out that British officials take similar positions:

Having considered these guidance notes, their definitions of social research and the report in question, I can confirm that I do not consider ‘Listening to Troubled Families’ as being within the definition of Government social research and thus the scope of the guidance. My rationale for this is that this report falls more properly within the description ‘dipstick/informal information gathering’.

(Reply from Jane Todorovic, Head of Profession for the Government Social Research (GSR) service at DCLG, 3 October 2012)

[“Policy Based on Unethical Research.” Poverty and Social Exclusion. Accessed January 25, 2013. h/t Robert Dingwall]

Friday, January 18, 2013

Armchairs vs. Evidence in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics

Last week I promised some comments on the Winter 2012 issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, which features a symposium entitled "Research Ethics: Reexamining Key Concerns."

The contributions reinforced my sense that the IRB debate is in part a contest between evidence-based approaches and armchair ethics.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Comment Policy

As I try to reduce the time I spend maintaining this blog, I will no longer publish comments that do not include the author's first and last names, and institutional affiliation as appropriate. I find that commenters who identify themselves post more helpful responses.

Bell and Salmon Warn of Dangerous Assumptions

Kirsten Bell and Amy Salmon, both of the University of British Columbia, warn that in trying to protect people they consider vulnerable, ethics committees ignore empirical evidence that some measures are counterproductive.

[Bell, Kirsten, and Amy Salmon. “Good Intentions and Dangerous Assumptions: Research Ethics Committees and Illicit Drug Use Research.” Research Ethics 8, no. 4 (December 2012): 191–199. doi:10.1177/1747016112461731.]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics Symposium Reexamines Research Ethics

The Winter 2012 issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics features presented at a November 2011 Wake Forest University Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society presented a conference entitled "Research Ethics: Reexamining Key Concerns."

Friday, January 4, 2013

Should We Expect an NPRM in April?

The Report on Research Compliance notes that the December 21 Current Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions projects a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in April 2013 as the next step in a revised Common Rule.

RRC also cautions that "federal agencies are notorious for missing specified dates," so I won't hold my breath.