21 July 2024

It goes beyond protecting us

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Bringing back their smiles

O.L.D.I.E is more than just a health project—it’s a movement towards a better quality of life for our aging population.

Menyelami intipati budaya Temuan di Ulu Chemong

Program ini berjaya memberi pendedahan dan pemahaman yang mendalam tentang budaya dan gaya hidup orang asli Temuan dalam kalangan mahasiswa UM.

Bursa leading the way

The Zakat Index is a market capitalization-weighted index that tracks the performance of the largest 200 companies on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.

The ice cream of life

I challenge all of us to be more like ice cream. Let’s store our energy wisely, stay true to our unique ‘flavour’, and when called upon, let’s give it our all – whether it’s a small scoop or a whole tub of effort.

Awas, ia membunuhmu

Fikirkan terlebih dahulu sebelum mula bicara atau bertingkah laku dan jangan jadikan perbuatan buli ini sebagai satu norma kepada masyarakat hari ini

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By: Prof. Dr. Mohammad Tariqur Rahman

Ethics Committees or Institutional Review Boards (IRB) are tasked with ensuring that proposed research adheres to ethical guidelines. The formal scrutiny of ethics in research began with the Nuremberg Military Tribunal’s decision (1946-1949), known as the Nuremberg Code. This code, comprising ten aspects of permissible medical experimentation on humans, mandates that humane experimentation must satisfy moral, ethical, and legal criteria, ultimately benefiting society.

The 8th World Medical Association General Assembly in 1964 saw the adoption of the Declaration of Helsinki, which outlines ethical principles for medical research involving humans, including research on identifiable human material and data. While these principles are primarily addressed to physicians, they are relevant to anyone conducting research involving humans. Despite the clarity of these principles, their practical application can be complex, leading to subjective interpretations of ethical, moral, and legal scrutiny.

Legal aspects of research ethics can vary significantly between countries. Research on genetically modified organisms and human cloning, for example, is not equally legal in all countries. Similarly, the determination of moral and ethical boundaries can vary depending on deontological, utilitarian, or relativist perspectives.

From a deontological standpoint, actions are either ethical or not, without exceptions. A utilitarian perspective weighs the consequences and benefits for the community, society, or nation. A relativist view considers moral standards to be relative to particular cultures and times. These perspectives highlight that determining ethical or moral boundaries in research is not straightforward and can lead to enduring debates about whether ethical and moral aspects can be used interchangeably in research guidelines or if they are limited to research involving humans and animals.

One debate in research ethics is whether individuals providing data should be considered “subjects” or “participants” and how they should be treated during research. Current ethical and moral principles focus on ensuring the protection of research participants but often overlook issues beyond participant protection.

One such issue is credit sharing among co-researchers. Principal researchers may sometimes add new researchers to a team without consulting the existing group. In academic research pursued by students, new co-supervisors may appear after the research design is finalized or most experiments are conducted, often without justification.

The credibility of a researcher is part of the IRB evaluation, and monitoring how and why new co-researchers join a project should also be evaluated. While adding co-researchers may be justified legally, taking credit undeservedly remains an ethical issue that may not be explicitly addressed by written ethical principles.

In academia, research output in publications is a performance indicator. Unfortunately, result fabrication and other forms of research misconduct have led to thousands of retractions. Both students and supervisors have been found guilty of such misconduct. While monitoring research misconduct is beyond the current IRB evaluation process and is typically handled by integrity authorities, it is within the IRB’s scope to require researchers to pledge adherence to ethical and moral standards throughout their research.

This pledge, while not eliminating potential misconduct, would remind researchers that the ethical and moral compass in research extends beyond the protection of human participants.


The author is the Associate Dean (Continuing Education), Faculty of Dentistry, and Associate Member, UM LEAD, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He may be reached at tarique@um.edu.my.