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Research Ethics Workshop


'Johnny and May, please sit over there.' (Teacher asks two P-5 students to move ... Three different subjects withdrew from the study after the post-test. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Research Ethics Workshop

Research Ethics Workshop
  • Dr. YANG Rui
  • (PowerPoint presentation originally prepared by
    Dr Jan van Aalst)

  • Ethical considerations
  • Preparing your ethics application
  • Looking at some examples
  • QA

Foundations the Belmont ReportThree key
  • Respect for persons
  • A research participant is treated as autonomous
    human being who makes his/her own decisions and
    acts upon them
  • Persons who are not able to do this must be
    protected from coercion and from activities that
    harm them
  • Beneficence
  • Maximize possible benefits and minimize possible
    harm to participants
  • Both the researcher and society (university) have
    a responsibility toward potential research
  • Justice
  • Benefits and burdens should be justly distributed
  • Dont just draw from pools of persons because you
    have easy access to them choose according to
    the requirements of the research problem

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Respect for persons some issues to consider
  • Are you providing enough information about the
    research procedures?
  • Copies of questionnaires and interview protocols
  • What are participants expected to do? For how
  • What will you do to participants and for how
    long? How disruptive will it be?
  • Who will have access to the data?
  • What steps will you take to promote anonymity?
  • How will you deal with situations where you do
    not have consent from ALL students in a class you
    are studying?
  • What will you do with data from participants who
    are no longer in the study?
  • Should you provide participants a chance to
    review what you write about them?
  • Is information you provide easy to understand?

Beneficence some issues to consider
  • Have you identified potential benefits to the
    field and to participants in particular?
  • Pilot studies suggest the new techniques should
    be beneficial
  • The study is expected to improve our
    understanding of
  • Participants will be given the results of the
    assessment of .
  • Have you identified potential harm?
  • Physical harm
  • Unusual stress
  • Changes to the learning environment
  • Potential for inferior examination results
  • Have you considered the balance of potential
    benefits and potential harms? Is the
    intervention (disruption, inconvenience, invasion
    of privacy, etc.) worth the trouble?
  • Will participants be able to obtain the results
    of the research?

Justice some issues to consider
  • Mostly for the academic review of the research
    proposal (funding agency, supervisor) but
  • Do students in a course taught by the researcher
    REALLY have the freedom to refuse to participate?
  • Could your recruitment practices be coercive?

A few stories from the field (1)
  • Johnny and May, please sit over there. (Teacher
    asks two P-5 students to move away from the group
    while a class discussion is video taped.)
  • Technology should be adapted to students.
    Students should not have to adapt to fit the
    technology. (Graduate student participating in a
    design experiment)
  • Your experiment has a pre-test, post-test, and
    delayed post-test. You started with 29 subjects
    at the pre-test. Two subjects were absent from
    the post-test. Three different subjects withdrew
    from the study after the post-test. What will you
    do with the data already collected from the
    subjects who withdrew?
  • The researcher has emailed me three times to ask
    to participate in his study. I dont want to be
    asked again. This is harassment! (A irate
  • A participant tells you something that might
    incriminate a person if it became known. How
    would you handle this situation?

A few stories from the field (2)
  • Wow do students really need to sign this? I
    would just expect that the researcher would not
    do anything that would harm students. (A
    university lecturer)
  • This letter is very threatening to our parents!
    What do you mean, if you have concerns you may
    contact xxx? What could happen that would lead a
    parent to do that? (P-4 teacher)
  • These procedures are very common in our school.
    We cant expect parents to sign a form every time
    we want to run a questionnaire. Can we simply
    inform them and ask them to contact us if they
    object or have questions? (School principal)

Monitoring the ethics of research procedures
goals and requirements
  • To promote high ethical standards respect for
    persons, beneficence, and justice
  • To protect the rights of research participants
  • To protect the university from legal action
  • University requires
  • application for ethical approval
  • Annual reporting, including withdrawals and
    unusual incidents

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Is an application needed for my project? Yes!
And before data collection
  • All research involving human participants by HKU
    faculty members, MPhil, PhD, EdD, and TPG and
    undergraduate students.
  • This includes research where the PI is at another
    university and you are the co-I
  • But two types of review (for Staff, MPhil, PhD
    and EdD)
  • Expedited review (submitted to FREC for vetting,
    then approved by HRECNCF in 1 week)
  • Full review (submitted to FREC for vetting, then
    approved in HRECNCF in 3 weeks)

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Preparing an application
  • Application form
  • Use the correct (Staff/MPhil/PhD/EdD vs. TPG) and
    current form
  • Should have a self-contained description of the
    research procedures
  • Attach questionnaires interview protocols
  • Describe the intent of these if not yet developed
  • If in Chinese, provide description in English
  • Attach all the appropriate consent forms
  • Parents/guardians, adults, principals
  • In the dominant language if Chinese, a close
    translation in English is required
  • Research proposal (if needed)
  • Not a substitute for (1)
  • Needed when the proposal has not been reviewed
    before (e.g., by grants foundation or advisory

Where to send your application
  • Staff, MPhil and PhD Polly Yiu
  • EdD, TPG and UG Simon Fung (
  • Please check website for updates regarding
    contact persons and deadlines
  • You need to send all files by email as well as a
    signed hard-copy

The application formPart B Details of Research
  • Very helpful to give a 1 to 1 ½ page summary of
    the methods section of the proposal
  • Goals and rationale for the study
  • Participants and their recruitment
  • Description of instruments and procedures
  • Any special procedures to improve ethics (e.g.,
    making participants comfortable, participant
    checks. Etc.)
  • Put the reviewers at ease as early in the
    application as possible!
  • Dont send reviewer to the proposal to try to
    find the necessary details

The application formPart C risk assessment for
new data (1)
  • Check appropriate boxes. Answer (a) through (h)
    ONLY if you checked Yes for at least one
  • Selection and recruitment of participants
  • Describe the procedures for obtaining informed
    consent (oral and written)
  • Rationale for sample size calculation
  • Explain why the sample size is appropriate for
    the study. n 27 is sufficient for detecting d
    0.5 at a power of 0.8. Allowing for some
    attrition, a sample of 32 should be sufficient
    for the study.
  • The main concern is whether you are making
    unnecessary demands on potential participants
    (cf. justice)
  • Remember that at the university level, reviewers
    may come from a medical research paradigm

The application formPart C risk assessment for
new data (1)
  • How will subjects be recruited/identified?
  • Recall issues around justice. Are you collecting
    data from a given population just because you can
    or is the sample necessary for the study?
  • Are you using recruitment tactics that may seem
    overly aggressive?
  • What are the inclusion and exclusion criteria?
  • Briefly explain if there are such criteria. Only
    students diagnosed with ADD will be included.
    All students in the course will be included in
    the study.
  • Description of specific data collection, such as
    interviews, questionnaires

The application formPart C Risk assessment for
new data (2)
  • Who will perform the data collection, how long
    will it last and where will it be conducted?
  • Briefly answer. Each child will be asked to
    undergo an interview lasting 20 to 30 minutes.
    The interview will be conducted, audio recorded,
    and transcribed verbatim by a research
  • Will participants be allowed to withdraw without
  • Your answer must be Yes.
  • Make it clear that it is without prejudice.
    Participants may withdraw from the study at any
    time without giving reason. If they do, it will
    not affect their grade and educational

The application formPart C Risk assessment for
new data (3)
  • Will there be any psychological stress/discomfort
    to participants?
  • No is not always convincing
  • If there are some things that may cause some
    stress explain them, and explain what you intend
    to do to limit stress. Some teachers are
    uncomfortable with answering questions on the
    spot. Therefore, they will be given the interview
    questions by email the evening before. The
    interviewer will also try to create a relaxed
    atmosphere (e.g., by interviewing in a familiar
    setting and beginning with small-talk before
    moving to the main questions.
  • How will data be retained/destroyed/handled?(only
    in the form for TPG)
  • Be specific on what you will do. The data will
    be kept in a locked filing cabinet at the PIs
    university office. Unprocessed data will be
    destroyed within 6 months of collecting it.
  • Mention your plans for archiving data
  • Dont give away the farm! No one is saying you
    must destroy data that you will need later.
  • Think about how to minimize the potential for
    information getting into the wrong hands

The application formPart F Benefits
  • Be as explicit as possible
  • Dont forget to mention any direct benefits to
    the participants if there are some

The consent form See helpful hints PPT on web
  • Keep the language simple. Most parents will not
    understand students will engage in collaborative
    knowledge construction.
  • Use the language used most typically at the
    school. Even at EMI schools, communication with
    parents may be in Chinese.
  • Watch out for potentially coercive language.
  • The information you provide MUST include
  • A summary of the procedures to be followed
  • That participation is voluntary and can be
    withdrawn without prejudice
  • The potential for stress/discomfort
  • How to contact the PI and the HRECNCF
  • The potential benefits of the study
  • But dont overdo it! There is no need to scare
    away potential participants