Table of Contents
Part 1: Ethics in Research.
Part 2: Scientific Misconduct Case Study.
The concept of ethics was at the center of the search for moral life by Greek philosophers. Ethics is basically considered as a sophisticated system of principles that has the probable to critically change the earlier considerations relating to choices and actions. It is better to say that ethics is a division of philosophy that is concerned with the dynamic of decision making about what is wrong and right. Like all human activities, the scientific research work is driven by individual, community and societal values. Moreover, the necessities of the research policy include the day-to-day work of disseminating information in the research and maintaining the dignity of the subject. Doody and Noonan, (2016) argues that the basic values of scientific work should be achieved in academic research for a number of reasons. Moreover, the authenticity of outcomes being published is a foremost aspect in enhancing the insight of the public to judge as well as adopt new outcomes although similarly increasing the creditability of scientific community.
There are many explanations why this is vital to follow ethical rules in the research. First, the rules provide for research purposes for example truth, knowledge, and error prevention. Perhaps, prohibition against falsifying, fabricating, or misrepresentation of research information to endorse truth and reduce the errors.
Second, since research often includes many collaborations and coordination between different disciplines and organizations, ethics encourages the values needed to work together, including trust, mutual respect, justice, and responsibility. In this way, several ethical standards in research, for example guiding principle of authorship, the policies of patent and copyright, data sharing policy, as well as confidentiality rules in peer reviews, are intended to defend intellectual property interests although prompting cooperation. Additionally, most researchers desire to gain credit for their contribution as well as do not need the idea to be disclosed or stolen prematurely (Australian Research Council, 2019).
Third, several ethics help to confirm that researcher can be held responsible to society. In this way, conflicts of interest, federal policies regarding research misconduct, protection of human subject, and physical care and utilization are important to confirm that investigators who are publicly funded can be held liable to society.
Fourth, ethical norm in the researcher assist to make communal supports for investigation. People who believe in the truthfulness and excellence of research are more expected to fund in the research project.
Lastly, various research values provide a variation of social and ethical values for example social responsibility, human rights, physical wellbeing, public health and safety, and compliance with the law. Besides, ethical gaps in research can create a problem for students, humans, and society. In this way, investigators who create data in clinical trials can kill or harm patients, as well as investigators who fail to abide by guidelines and regulation in relation to biological safety or radiation can threaten his health and safety or the health and safety of researchers and staffs.
Ethics is usually played out when a person or animal is involved in research, and Doody and Noonan, (2016) stated that the importance of the differences between their behaviors cannot be accepted and accepted as involving human participants. Atkins et al. (2018) added that scientific research relies on collaboration between researchers and different groups and that research policy supports relevant values in collaborative work with fairness and mutual respect. Beauchamp and Childress (2013) show that researchers can be responsible for these actions through research principles. To ensure that this money is adequately spent, research and regulations related to government funding such as misconduct, conflict of interest, and support for studies on human or animal involvement are necessary as public funds are used to fund and disseminate scientific studies. In order to do that they need to rely on and guarantee policy research. But ultimately, at the very least, the principle of research is to measure ethics and especially social values such as the principle of making a profit - without being harmful to others.
In Australia, the Australian Research Council (ARC) is responsible for overseeing research policy. ARC is dedicated to the uppermost values of honesty in every area of research. Also, the organization is responsible for developing and supporting a research environment based on a culture of openness. The ARC also ensures that all ARC-funded studies comply with applicable legal, ethical and professional frameworks, as well as relevant obligations and standards. Different guidelines and codes and are developed by the ARC to monitor research ethics, including The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018), The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007), The Australian Code For The Care And Use Of Animals For Scientific Purposes 8th edition (2013), The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (2012), Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities: Guidelines for researchers and stakeholders (2018), and The Australia Council for the Arts, Indigenous Cultural Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Music, Writing, Visual Arts, Media Arts and Performing Arts (2007). Furthermore, Human Research Committees (HRECs) are formed in various research organizations across Australia and are responsible for reviewing and evaluating all research proposals involving humans/animals to ensure that they are ethically acceptable in the light of certain guidelines and standards. One of these guidelines includes The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) that needs several studies to undergo an ethical review involving human participants or humans.
One of the crucial research areas in which ethics plays a critical role in nursing research. According to Beauchamp and Childress (2013), nursing research is focused on improving patient safety through studying new therapies, pharmacological treatments, behavioral therapies, and other aspects involving human participants. Nurses are required to cope with three value systems in which they participate in research, such as society, nursing, and science. Moreover, the culture of nursing based on the societal values relating to human rights, the ethics of caring, as well as the values of the researcher regarding the scientific inquiry. Additionally, these values often conflict with the values of communities, societies, subjects, thus, making dilemmas and tensions in nursing. This segment will research several ethical issues that exist in nursing research and the ways through which they can be managed.
The main ethical issue of nursing research is informed consent. Rainer et al. (2018) added that human participants intelligently, voluntarily, and knowingly provided consent in a public and explicit way because it is one of the most important ways in which patients' autonomy is protected. Cooney (2018) highlighted that autonomy is a fundamental right of every person and their ability to make decisions when informed. The purpose of informed consent is to integrate the rights of independent people through self-determination and to protect their personal integrity and independence and to prevent any attack on their integrity. Individuals need to have information about the risks and benefits of their research to make informed decision so that they can voluntarily participate in research. The informed consent process ought to include the aim of the study, an explanation regarding participants' selection, and the procedure to be followed. Fouka and Mantzorou (2011) adds that threat of discomfort, any privacy attacks, physical harm and interference with their dignity should be addressed, as well as how they should be compensated in the event of any such incident. Participants should be detailed about science, not about any of the expected benefits of the project, by generating new knowledge, or about the participants themselves, for example, through improving patient safety.
The second issue of nursing research is anonymity and confidentiality associated with respect for loyalty and dignity. When the subject's identity cannot be linked to their personal responses during the study, anonymity is protected, and if the researcher is unable to disclose anonymity, their privacy needs to be addressed. As stated by Fouka and Mantzorou (2011), privacy ensures that participants can give and deny as much data as they want to the people of their choice. Furthermore, it is also contended that researchers need to ensure privacy that goes beyond general loyalty. However, researchers in qualitative research may face a number of problems in maintaining confidentiality because the sample is small, the conduct is personal, and interview quotes appear in the final report. To solve this problem, Morley et al. (2019) suggested that interviews should be distorted for detailed identification and that pseudonyms should be used when transcribing tapes used.
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) enacted by the Federal Government of Australia significantly emphasis on privacy as well as the legislation affirms the patients' right to privacy. As stated by Fouka and Mantzorou (2011), privacy gives the people with the freedom to regulate the time and the general conditions under which they may share or hold back their personal information. Sasso et al. (2016) highlighted that when personal information is shared with another person with the consent or knowledge of the person; Knowledge including opinions, beliefs, records, and attitudes. George (2016) stated that researchers should respect their patients' opinions when they refuse to share their personal information because they believe their privacy will be compromised. This applies to information related to income, age, marital status and any other details initiated for participants. Jain (2010) mentioned that healthcare practitioners should recognize that if a patient's privacy is compromised, it can lead to loss of employment, dignity or friendship, or create guilt, shame, anxiety, and embarrassment. Seeing these issues, researchers must ensure that all steps are taken to address these ethical issues to protect participants from any physical, social, or psychological harm.
Dr. Piero Anversa, a distinguished heart researcher at Harvard Medical School and later worked at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, UK, made false and misleading information in 31 journal articles that were rejected after allegations against the researchers were substantiated. Doctors' research suggested that the reconstruction of damaged heart cells is possible through stem cells - a type of cell that has the ability to transform itself into a variety of cells under controlled conditions. The work of the doctor and his colleagues led to the formation of several start-up organizations to develop new treatments for stroke and heart attack, and even a clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) influenced their research. This is despite the fact that other laboratory researchers were unable to replicate the findings. Researchers in other countries were shocked when the news broke. Benoit Bruneau, associate director of cardiovascular research at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, noted that the withdrawal of 31 articles was never heard; This much more work has been called into question the whole work of the laboratory and the whole field of research (Department of Justice, 2017).
In 2001, researchers claimed that regeneration of the heart muscle was possible, although this is not the opposite of scientific sensory deprivation. The researchers claim that if stem cells are taken from the bone marrow and then injected into the heart, they will turn into heart cells, thus, repairing the damage. Although the studies were conducted on rats, researchers around the world were electrified and agreed to test the results. Therefore, companies were formed including one headed by Dr. Piero Anversa based on this claim that regeneration of damaged heart muscles is possible through stem cell therapy. However, when other researchers conducted a duplicate of this work, they failed to replicate the results. A study conducted by George (2016) reported that once the stem cells taken from the bone marrow were inserted into the heart, they remained in the bone marrow cells. Another study conducted by Mallari and Joseph (2016) have indicated similar results which have raised a cautionary note among researchers across the field. However, regardless of this failure, Dr. Anversa and his colleagues strongly argued that these researchers could not do the research. Many labs tried again to copy the results but failed significantly and at this point Brigham and Women's Hospital withdrew their papers when they complained to the relevant departments.
The Department of Justice held that Dr Anversa, Dr Annarosa Leri and Dr Jan Kajstura were responsible for relying on and propagating false and distorted information, including carbon-14 age data for cells and confocal microscope images. Besides, this information was submitted to the NIH in order to receive a grant of reasonable research on the reasonable efficiency of stem cells to repair damaged muscles of the heart after a stroke or heart attack. The government has decided that the problems identified during their work and their laboratory review include incorrect protocols, intentional confusion of record keeping, incorrect and invalid characterization of stem cells and authentication of various images and data published in authentic and well-known journals. It is further concluded that Anversa Laboratories has submitted false scientific claims to the NIH so that they can use the research grant for their own purposes. One of their fellows further stated that the culture of “fear” was embedded in the laboratory and the behavior of Dr. Anversa was not sufficient for his colleagues and lab assistants (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2018).
The core principle of the Australian Code for Responsible Conduct of Research is about research development, initiative and reporting integrity. This principle needs that information ought to be presented in a truthful and accurate manner when proposing, conducting and reporting research. This is the first main code breached by Dr. Anversa that they reported false information by their journal. Mallari and Joseph (2016) emphasized that researchers invest considerable time in replicating other studies that are beneficial to their country and community. However, if the original study is based on false information, the country / researcher may lose time and financial resources to try to replicate the study. This underscores the importance of the ‘honesty’ principle when conducting scientific research.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2019) emphasized that researchers have a responsibility to promote effective and adequate research practice through their research. If they are unable to promote effective research practice through their own practice, they are running scientific fraud. This argument relates to Policy 8 of the Australian Code for Responsible Research Conduct; Promotion. This policy advocates that a research environment that supports responsible conduct of research should be promoted and encouraged. However, in this case, the researchers promoted inadequate research practices that had a major impact on other researchers and on science as a whole. Their research practices were completely unethical and violated most of the relevant laws, protocols and guidelines for conducting scientific research. Moreover, it is also linked to the accountability principle (7) in the Australian code for responsible conduct of research. In this way, this policy advocates that researchers must adhere to relevant policies, protocols, guidelines and laws, so that the public used to conduct the research cannot be misused. This policy calls for the evaluation of study results and outcomes before further publication. However, the action of Dr. Anversa in which directly comply with these principles. The researchers did not use NIH funds properly or they did not comply with relevant laws and protocols. Sasso et al. (2016) indicates that data-related misconduct is not common and is usually found in clinical trials where a new therapy or a new drug is recommended for specific treatment. Retraction Watch (2017) argued that ethics and ethics principles are not embedded in researchers who lie about data for their own purposes and do not understand what its impact is on the wider community.
The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research also introduces certain responsibilities to researchers when conducting scientific research. One such responsibility (R23) is to confirm that all investigations are properly, responsibly and widely publicized and that necessary steps are taken to correct errors in a timely manner. This responsibility was likewise violated because the researchers deliberately misrepresented the information and images, and when asked about it, they still insisted that all data is original and is not false.
Atkins, K., De Lacey, S., Ripperger, R. and Britton, B. 2018. Ethics and Law for Australian Nurses. 3rd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Australian Research Council, 2019. Codes and Guidelines | Australian Research Council. [Online] Arc.gov.au. Available at: https://www.arc.gov.au/policies-strategies/policy/codes-and-guidelines [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].
Beauchamp, T. and Childress, J. 2013. Principles of biomedical ethics. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cooney, E. 2018. Heart failure study paused over concerns about disputed cell therapy papers - STAT. [online] STAT. Available at: https://www.statnews.com/2018/10/29/heart-failure-study-paused-concerns-retracted-papers/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].
Department of Justice, 2017. Partners Healthcare and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Agree to pay $10 Million to Resolve Research Fraud Allegations. [Online] Justice.gov. Available at: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/partners-healthcare-and-brigham-and-women-s-hospital-agree-pay-10-million-resolve [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].
Doody, O. and Noonan, M., 2016. Nursing research ethics, guidance and application in practice. British Journal of Nursing, 25(14), pp.803-807.
Fouka, G. and Mantzorou, M. 2011. What are the Major Ethical Issues in Conducting Research? Is there a Conflict between the Research Ethics and the Nature of Nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), pp.3-14.
George, S. 2016. Research misconduct and data fraud in clinical trials: prevalence and causal factors. International Journal of Clinical Oncology, 21(1), pp.15-21.
Jain, A. (2010). Ethical issues in scientific publication. Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, 44(3), p.235.
Mallari, M.G.D. and Joseph, D., 2016. Ethical frameworks for decision-making in nursing practice and research: an integrative literature review. J Nurs. Pract. Appl. Rev. Res, 7(1).
Morley, G., Bradbury-Jones, C. and Ives, J., 2019. What is ‘moral distress’ in nursing? A feminist empirical bioethics study. Nursing Ethics, p.0969733019874492.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2018). Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. [Online] Canberra, ACT: National Health and Medical Research Council. Available at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/attachments/grant%20documents/The-australian-code-for-the-responsible-conduct-of-research-2018.pdf [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].
National Health and Medical Research Council (2019). Human Research Ethics Committees | NHMRC. [Online] Nhmrc.gov.au. Available at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/research-policy/ethics/human-research-ethics-committees [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].
Rainer, J., Schneider, J.K. and Lorenz, R.A., 2018. Ethical dilemmas in nursing: An integrative review. Journal of clinical nursing, 27(19-20), pp.3446-3461.
Retraction Watch (2017). Harvard teaching hospital to pay $10 million to settle research misconduct allegations. [Online] Retraction Watch. Available at: https://retractionwatch.com/2017/04/27/harvard-teaching-hospital-pay-10-million-settle-research-misconduct-allegations/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].
Sasso, L., Bagnasco, A., Bianchi, M., Bressan, V. and Carnevale, F., 2016. Moral distress in undergraduate nursing students: a systematic review. Nursing ethics, 23(5), pp.523-534.
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