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Journal Cover Science and Engineering Ethics
  [SJR: 0.372]   [H-I: 31]   [6 followers]  Follow
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1471-5546 - ISSN (Online) 1353-3452
   Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2335 journals]
  • Compliance Disengagement in Research: Development and Validation of a New
    • Authors: James M. DuBois; John T. Chibnall; John Gibbs
      Pages: 965 - 988
      Abstract: Abstract In the world of research, compliance with research regulations is not the same as ethics, but it is closely related. One could say that compliance is how most societies with advanced research programs operationalize many ethical obligations. This paper reports on the development of the How I Think about Research (HIT-Res) questionnaire, which is an adaptation of the How I Think (HIT) questionnaire that examines the use of cognitive distortions to justify antisocial behaviors. Such an adaptation was justified based on a review of the literature on mechanisms of moral disengagement and self-serving biases, which are used by individuals with normal personalities in a variety of contexts, including research. The HIT-Res adapts all items to refer to matters of research compliance and integrity rather than antisocial behaviors. The HIT-Res was administered as part of a battery of tests to 300 researchers and trainees funded by the US National Institutes of Health. The HIT-Res demonstrated excellent reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = .92). Construct validity was established by the correlation of the HIT-Res with measures of moral disengagement (r = .75), cynicism (r = .51), and professional decision-making in research (r = −.36). The HIT-Res will enrich the set of assessment tools available to instructors in the responsible conduct of research and to researchers who seek to understand the factors that influence research integrity.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9681-x
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Ethical Ambiguity in Science
    • Authors: David R. Johnson; Elaine Howard Ecklund
      Pages: 989 - 1005
      Abstract: Abstract Drawing on 171 in-depth interviews with physicists at universities in the United States and the UK, this study examines the narratives of 48 physicists to explain the concept of ethical ambiguity: the border where legitimate and illegitimate conduct is blurred. Researchers generally assume that scientists agree on what constitutes both egregious and more routine forms of misconduct in science. The results of this study show that scientists perceive many scenarios as ethically gray, rather than black and white. Three orientations to ethical ambiguity are considered—altruism, inconsequential outcomes, and preserving the status quo—that allow possibly questionable behavior to persist unchallenged. Each discursive strategy is rationalized as promoting the collective interest of science rather than addressing what is ethically correct or incorrect. The results of this study suggest that ethics training in science should focus not only on fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism and more routine forms of misconduct, but also on strategies for resolving ethically ambiguous scenarios where appropriate action may not be clear.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9682-9
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Six Challenges for Ethical Conduct in Science
    • Authors: Petteri Niemi
      Pages: 1007 - 1025
      Abstract: Abstract The realities of human agency and decision making pose serious challenges for research ethics. This article explores six major challenges that require more attention in the ethics education of students and scientists and in the research on ethical conduct in science. The first of them is the routinization of action, which makes the detection of ethical issues difficult. The social governance of action creates ethical problems related to power. The heuristic nature of human decision making implies the risk of ethical bias. The moral disengagement mechanisms represent a human tendency to evade personal responsibility. The greatest challenge of all might be the situational variation in people’s ethical behaviour. Even minor situational factors have a surprisingly strong influence on our actions. Furthermore, finally, the nature of ethics itself also causes problems: instead of clear answers, we receive a multitude of theories and intuitions that may sometimes be contradictory. All these features of action and ethics represent significant risks for ethical conduct in science. I claim that they have to be managed within the everyday practices of science and addressed explicitly in research ethics education. I analyse them and suggest some ways in which their risks can be alleviated.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9676-7
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • The Essential Need for Research Misconduct Allegation Audits
    • Authors: Lisa Loikith; Robert Bauchwitz
      Pages: 1027 - 1049
      Abstract: Abstract Nearly 90 % of allegations of biomedical research misconduct in the United States are dismissed by responsible institutions without any faculty assessment or auditable record. Recently, members of the U.S. Congress have complained that the penalties for those against whom findings of research misconduct are made are too light and that too few grant funds associated with research misconduct have been recovered for use by other researchers and taxpayers. Here we discuss the laws that empower federal agencies that can oversee investigations of biomedical research misconduct: the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), both located within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Research misconduct investigations pertaining to U.S. physical sciences funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) are overseen by the NSF’s OIG. While OIGs may provide some improvement over the ORI in the handling of research misconduct, we have found that a much more serious flaw exists which undermines an ability to conduct performance audits of the effectiveness by which allegations of research misconduct are handled in the United States. Specifically, sufficient data do not need to be retained by U.S. research institutions funded by HHS or NSF to allow effective audit of why allegations of research misconduct are dismissed before being seen by faculty inquiry or investigative committees. U.S. federal Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS/Yellow Book), if applied to the research misconduct oversight process, would allow a determination of whether the handling of allegations of biomedical research misconduct actually functions adequately, and if not, how it might be improved. In particular, we propose that independent, external peer review under GAGAS audit standards should be instituted without delay in assessing the performance of ORI, or any other similarly tasked federal agency, in handling allegations of research misconduct.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9798-6
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Protecting Ideas: Ethical and Legal Considerations When a Grant’s
           Principal Investigator Changes
    • Authors: Leonidas G. Koniaris; Mary I. Coombs; Eric M. Meslin; Teresa A. Zimmers
      Pages: 1051 - 1061
      Abstract: Abstract Ethical issues related the responsible conduct of research involve questions concerning the rights and obligations of investigators to propose, design, implement, and publish research. When a principal investigator (PI) transfers institutions during a grant cycle, financial and recognition issues need to be addressed to preserve all parties’ obligations and best interests in a mutually beneficial way. Although grants often transfer with the PI, sometimes they do not. Maintaining a grant at an institution after the PI leaves does not negate the grantee institution’s obligation to recognize the PI’s original ideas, contributions, and potential rights to some forms of expression and compensation. Issues include maintaining a role for the PI in determining how to take credit for, share and publish results that involve his or her original ideas. Ascribing proper credit can become a thorny issue. This paper provides a framework for addressing situations and disagreements that may occur when a new PI continues the work after the original PI transfers. Included are suggestions for proactively developing institutional mechanisms that address such issues. Considerations include how to develop solutions that comply with the responsible conduct of research, equitably resolve claims regarding reporting of results, and avoid the possibility of plagiarism.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9688-3
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Perpetuation of Retracted Publications Using the Example of the Scott S.
           Reuben Case: Incidences, Reasons and Possible Improvements
    • Authors: Helmar Bornemann-Cimenti; Istvan S. Szilagyi; Andreas Sandner-Kiesling
      Pages: 1063 - 1072
      Abstract: Abstract In 2009, Scott S. Reuben was convicted of fabricating data, which lead to 25 of his publications being retracted. Although it is clear that the perpetuation of retracted articles negatively effects the appraisal of evidence, the extent to which retracted literature is cited had not previously been investigated. In this study, to better understand the perpetuation of discredited research, we examine the number of citations of Reuben’s articles within 5 years of their retraction. Citations of Reuben’s retracted articles were assessed using the Web of Science Core Collection (Thomson Reuters, NY). All citing articles were screened to discriminate between articles in which Reuben’s work was quoted as retracted, and articles in which his data was wrongly cited without any note of the retraction status. Twenty of Reuben’s publications had been cited 274 times between 2009 and 1024. In 2014, 45 % of the retracted articles had been cited at least once. In only 25.8 % of citing articles was it clearly stated that Reuben’s work had been retracted. Annual citations decreased from 108 in 2009 to 18 in 2014; however, the percentage of publications correctly indicating the retraction status also declined. The percentage of citations in top-25 %-journals, as well as the percentage of citations in journals from Reuben’s research area, declined sharply after 2009. Our data show that even 5 years after their retraction, nearly half of Reuben’s articles are still being quoted and the retraction status is correctly mentioned in only one quarter of the citations.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9680-y
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Different Peer Review Policies via
    • Authors: Jia Zhu; Gabriel Fung; Wai Hung Wong; Zhixu Li; Chuanhua Xu
      Pages: 1073 - 1094
      Abstract: Abstract In the academic world, peer review is one of the major processes in evaluating a scholars contribution. In this study, we are interested in quantifying the merits of different policies in a peer review process, such as single-blind review, double-blind review, and obtaining authors feedback. Currently, insufficient work has been undertaken to evaluate the benefits of different peer review policies. One of the major reasons for this situation is the inability to conduct any empirical study because data are presently unavailable. In this case, a computer simulation is one of the best ways to conduct a study. We perform a series of simulations to study the effects of different policies on a peer review process. In this study, we focus on the peer review process of a typical computer science conference. Our results point to the crucial role of program chairs in determining the quality and diversity of the articles to be accepted for publication. We demonstrate the importance of discussion among reviewers, suggest circumstances in which the double-blind review policy should be adopted, and question the credibility of the authors feedback mechanism. Finally, we stress that randomness plays an important role in the peer review process, and this role cannot be eliminated. Although our model may not capture every component of a peer review process, it covers some of the most essential elements. Thus, even the simulation results clearly cannot be taken as literal descriptions of an actual peer review process. However, we can at least still use them to identify alternative directions for future study.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9683-8
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • An Analysis of Medical Laboratory Technology Journals’ Instructions
           for Authors
    • Authors: Martina Horvat; Ana Mlinaric; Jelena Omazic; Vesna Supak-Smolcic
      Pages: 1095 - 1106
      Abstract: Abstract Instructions for authors (IFA) need to be informative and regularly updated. We hypothesized that journals with a higher impact factor (IF) have more comprehensive IFA. The aim of the study was to examine whether IFA of journals indexed in the Journal Citation Reports 2013, “Medical Laboratory Technology” category, are written in accordance with the latest recommendations and whether the quality of instructions correlates with the journals’ IF. 6 out of 31 journals indexed in “Medical Laboratory Technology” category were excluded (unsuitable or unavailable instructions). The remaining 25 journals were scored based on a set of 41 yes/no questions (score 1/0) and divided into four groups (editorial policy, research ethics, research integrity, manuscript preparation) by three authors independently (max score = 41). We tested the correlation between IF and total score and the difference between scores in separate question groups. The median total score was 26 (21–30) [portion of positive answers 0.63 (0.51–0.73)]. There was no statistically significant correlation between a journal’s IF and the total score (rho = 0.291, P = 0.159). IFA included recommendations concerning research ethics and manuscript preparation more extensively than recommendations concerning editorial policy and research integrity (Ht = 15.91, P = 0.003). Some policies were poorly described (portion of positive answers), for example: procedure for author’s appeal (0.04), editorial submissions (0.08), appointed body for research integrity issues (0.08). The IF of the “Medical Laboratory Technology” journals does not reflect a journals’ compliance to uniform standards. There is a need for improving editorial policies and the policies on research integrity.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9689-2
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Responsible Reporting: Neuroimaging News in the Age of Responsible
           Research and Innovation
    • Authors: Irja Marije de Jong; Frank Kupper; Marlous Arentshorst; Jacqueline Broerse
      Pages: 1107 - 1130
      Abstract: Abstract Besides offering opportunities in both clinical and non-clinical domains, the application of novel neuroimaging technologies raises pressing dilemmas. ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’ (RRI) aims to stimulate research and innovation activities that take ethical and social considerations into account from the outset. We previously identified that Dutch neuroscientists interpret “responsible innovation” as educating the public on neuroimaging technologies via the popular press. Their aim is to mitigate (neuro)hype, an aim shared with the wider emerging RRI community. Here, we present results of a media-analysis undertaken to establish whether the body of articles in the Dutch popular press presents balanced conversations on neuroimaging research to the public. We found that reporting was mostly positive and framed in terms of (healthcare) progress. There was rarely a balance between technology opportunities and limitations, and even fewer articles addressed societal or ethical aspects of neuroimaging research. Furthermore, neuroimaging metaphors seem to favour oversimplification. Current reporting is therefore more likely to enable hype than to mitigate it. How can neuroscientists, given their self-ascribed social responsibility, address this conundrum' We make a case for a collective and shared responsibility among neuroscientists, journalists and other stakeholders, including funders, committed to responsible reporting on neuroimaging research.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9684-7
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Engineering Social Justice into Traffic Control for Self-Driving
    • Authors: Milos N. Mladenovic; Tristram McPherson
      Pages: 1131 - 1149
      Abstract: Abstract The convergence of computing, sensing, and communication technology will soon permit large-scale deployment of self-driving vehicles. This will in turn permit a radical transformation of traffic control technology. This paper makes a case for the importance of addressing questions of social justice in this transformation, and sketches a preliminary framework for doing so. We explain how new forms of traffic control technology have potential implications for several dimensions of social justice, including safety, sustainability, privacy, efficiency, and equal access. Our central focus is on efficiency and equal access as desiderata for traffic control design. We explain the limitations of conventional traffic control in meeting these desiderata, and sketch a preliminary vision for a next-generation traffic control tailored to address better the demands of social justice. One component of this vision is cooperative, hierarchically distributed self-organization among vehicles. Another component of this vision is a priority system enabling selection of priority levels by the user for each vehicle trip in the network, based on the supporting structure of non-monetary credits.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9690-9
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Prospective Technology Assessment of Synthetic Biology: Fundamental and
           Propaedeutic Reflections in Order to Enable an Early Assessment
    • Authors: Jan Cornelius Schmidt
      Pages: 1151 - 1170
      Abstract: Abstract Synthetic biology is regarded as one of the key technosciences of the future. The goal of this paper is to present some fundamental considerations to enable procedures of a technology assessment (TA) of synthetic biology. To accomplish such an early “upstream” assessment of a not yet fully developed technology, a special type of TA will be considered: Prospective TA (ProTA). At the center of ProTA are the analysis and the framing of “synthetic biology,” including a characterization and assessment of the technological core. The thesis is that if there is any differentia specifica giving substance to the umbrella term “synthetic biology,” it is the idea of harnessing self-organization for engineering purposes. To underline that we are likely experiencing an epochal break in the ontology of technoscientific systems, this new type of technology is called “late-modern technology.” —I start this paper by analyzing the three most common visions of synthetic biology. Then I argue that one particular vision deserves more attention because it underlies the others: the vision of self-organization. I discuss the inherent limits of this new type of late-modern technology in the attempt to control and monitor possible risk issues. I refer to Hans Jonas’ ethics and his early anticipation of the risks of a novel type of technology. I end by drawing conclusions for the approach of ProTA towards an early societal shaping of synthetic biology.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9673-x
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Contested Technologies and Design for Values: The Case of Shale Gas
    • Authors: Marloes Dignum; Aad Correljé; Eefje Cuppen; Udo Pesch; Behnam Taebi
      Pages: 1171 - 1191
      Abstract: Abstract The introduction of new energy technologies may lead to public resistance and contestation. It is often argued that this phenomenon is caused by an inadequate inclusion of relevant public values in the design of technology. In this paper we examine the applicability of the value sensitive design (VSD) approach. While VSD was primarily introduced for incorporating values in technological design, our focus in this paper is expanded towards the design of the institutions surrounding these technologies, as well as the design of stakeholder participation. One important methodological challenge of VSD is to identify the relevant values related to new technological developments. In this paper, we argue that the public debate can form a rich source from which to retrieve the values at stake. To demonstrate this, we have examined the arguments used in the public debate regarding the exploration and exploitation of shale gas in the Netherlands. We identified two important sets of the underlying values, namely substantive and procedural values. This paper concludes with two key findings. Firstly, contrary to what is often suggested in the literature, both proponents and opponents seem to endorse the same values. Secondly, contestation seems to arise in the precise operationalization of these values among the different stakeholders. In other words, contestation in the Dutch shale gas debate does not arise from inter-value conflict but rather from intra-value conflicts. This multi-interpretability should be incorporated in VSD processes.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9685-6
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Enabling Ethical Code Embeddedness in Construction Organizations: A Review
           of Process Assessment Approach
    • Authors: Olugbenga Timo Oladinrin; Christabel Man-Fong Ho
      Pages: 1193 - 1215
      Abstract: Abstract Several researchers have identified codes of ethics (CoEs) as tools that stimulate positive ethical behavior by shaping the organisational decision-making process, but few have considered the information needed for code implementation. Beyond being a legal and moral responsibility, ethical behavior needs to become an organisational priority, which requires an alignment process that integrates employee behavior with the organisation’s ethical standards. This paper discusses processes for the responsible implementation of CoEs based on an extensive review of the literature. The internationally recognized European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model (EFQM model) is proposed as a suitable framework for assessing an organisation’s ethical performance, including CoE embeddedness. The findings presented herein have both practical and research implications. They will encourage construction practitioners to shift their attention from ethical policies to possible enablers of CoE implementation and serve as a foundation for further research on ethical performance evaluation using the EFQM model. This is the first paper to discuss the model’s use in the context of ethics in construction practice.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9679-4
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Scientific Misconduct in India: Causes and Perpetuation
    • Authors: Pratap R. Patnaik
      Pages: 1245 - 1249
      Abstract: Abstract Along with economic strength, space technology and software expertise, India is also a leading nation in fraudulent scientific research. The problem is worsened by vested interests working in concert for their own benefits. These self-promoting cartels, together with biased evaluation methods and weak penal systems, combine to perpetuate scientific misconduct. Some of these issues are discussed in this commentary, with supporting examples and possible solutions.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9677-6
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Aruna Shanbaug: Is Her Demise the End of the Road for Legislation on
           Euthanasia in India'
    • Authors: Tanuj Kanchan; Alok Atreya; Kewal Krishan
      Pages: 1251 - 1253
      Abstract: Abstract Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug breathed her last after 42 years of being in a persistent vegetative state. Euthanasia in any form is not permitted in India and it was only in the year 2011 that a petition was filed in the court that urged the cessation of her force feeding with a nasogastric tube and the request for her peaceful death. What followed was a string of arguments and counter arguments relating to Euthanasia. The sad demise of Aruna Shanbaug is not the end of an individual, but may be the end of the road for clear cut guidelines and legislation on Euthanasia in India.
      PubDate: 2016-08-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-015-9687-4
      Issue No: Vol. 22, No. 4 (2016)
  • Ethics Teaching in Higher Education for Principled Reasoning: A Gateway
           for Reconciling Scientific Practice with Ethical Deliberation
    • Authors: Mehmet Aközer; Emel Aközer
      Abstract: Abstract This paper proposes laying the groundwork for principled moral reasoning as a seminal goal of ethics interventions in higher education, and on this basis, makes a case for educating future specialists and professionals with a foundation in philosophical ethics. Identification of such a seminal goal is warranted by (1) the progressive dissociation of scientific practice and ethical deliberation since the onset of a problematic relationship between science and ethics around the mid-19th century, and (2) the extensive mistrust of integrating ethics in science and engineering curricula beyond its “applied,” “practical,” or “professional” implications. Although calls by international scientific and educational bodies to strengthen ethics teaching in scientific education over the past quarter century have brought about a notion of combining competence in a certain field with competence in ethics, this is neither entrenched in the academic community, nor fleshed out as regards its core or instruments to realize it. The legitimate goals of ethics teaching in higher education, almost settled since the 1980s, can be subsumed under the proposed seminal goal, and the latter also would safeguard content and methods of ethics interventions against the intrusion of indoctrinative approaches. In this paper, derivation of the proposed seminal goal rests on an interpretation of the Kohlbergian cognitive-developmental conception of moral adulthood consisting in autonomous principled moral reasoning. This interpretation involves, based on Kant’s conception of the virtuous person, integrating questions about the “good life” into the domain of principled reasoning.
      PubDate: 2016-08-26
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9813-y
  • May Stakeholders be Involved in Design Without Informed Consent' The
           Case of Hidden Design
    • Authors: A. J. K. Pols
      Abstract: Abstract Stakeholder involvement in design is desirable from both a practical and an ethical point of view. It is difficult to do well, however, and some problems recur again and again, both of a practical nature, e.g. stakeholders acting strategically rather than openly, and of an ethical nature, e.g. power imbalances unduly affecting the outcome of the process. Hidden Design has been proposed as a method to deal with the practical problems of stakeholder involvement. It aims to do so by taking the observation of stakeholder actions, rather than the outcomes of a deliberative process, as its input. Furthermore, it hides from stakeholders the fact that a design process is taking place so that they will not behave differently than they otherwise would. Both aspects of Hidden Design have raised ethical worries. In this paper I make an ethical analysis of what it means for a design process to leave participants uninformed or deceived rather than acquiring their informed consent beforehand, and to use observation of actions rather than deliberation as input for design, using Hidden Design as a case study. This analysis is based on two sets of normative guidelines: the ethical guidelines for psychological research involving deception or uninformed participants from two professional psychological organisations, and Habermasian norms for a fair and just (deliberative) process. It supports the conclusion that stakeholder involvement in design organised in this way can be ethically acceptable, though under a number of conditions and constraints.
      PubDate: 2016-08-24
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9811-0
  • Ethics Across the Curriculum: Prospects for Broader (and Deeper) Teaching
           and Learning in Research and Engineering Ethics
    • Abstract: Abstract The movements to teach the responsible conduct of research (RCR) and engineering ethics at technological universities are often unacknowledged aspects of the ethics across the curriculum (EAC) movement and could benefit from explicit alliances with it. Remarkably, however, not nearly as much scholarly attention has been devoted to EAC as to RCR or to engineering ethics, and RCR and engineering ethics educational efforts are not always presented as facets of EAC. The emergence of EAC efforts at two different institutions—the Illinois Institute of Technology and Utah Valley University (UVU)—provide counter examples. The remarkably successful UVU initiative gave birth to EAC as a scholarly movement and to the associated Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. EAC initiatives at the Colorado School of Mines, however, point up continuing institutional resistances to EAC. Finally, comparative reflection on successes and failures can draw some lessons for the future. One suggestion is that increasing demands for accountability and pedagogical research into what works in teaching and learning offers special opportunities.
      PubDate: 2016-08-22
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9797-7
  • Gain-of-Function Research: Ethical Analysis
    • Authors: Michael J. Selgelid
      Abstract: Abstract Gain-of-function (GOF) research involves experimentation that aims or is expected to (and/or, perhaps, actually does) increase the transmissibility and/or virulence of pathogens. Such research, when conducted by responsible scientists, usually aims to improve understanding of disease causing agents, their interaction with human hosts, and/or their potential to cause pandemics. The ultimate objective of such research is to better inform public health and preparedness efforts and/or development of medical countermeasures. Despite these important potential benefits, GOF research (GOFR) can pose risks regarding biosecurity and biosafety. In 2014 the administration of US President Barack Obama called for a “pause” on funding (and relevant research with existing US Government funding) of GOF experiments involving influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses in particular. With announcement of this pause, the US Government launched a “deliberative process” regarding risks and benefits of GOFR to inform future funding decisions—and the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was tasked with making recommendations to the US Government on this matter. As part of this deliberative process the National Institutes of Health commissioned this Ethical Analysis White Paper, requesting that it provide (1) review and summary of ethical literature on GOFR, (2) identification and analysis of existing ethical and decision-making frameworks relevant to (i) the evaluation of risks and benefits of GOFR, (ii) decision-making about the conduct of GOF studies, and (iii) the development of US policy regarding GOFR (especially with respect to funding of GOFR), and (3) development of an ethical and decision-making framework that may be considered by NSABB when analyzing information provided by GOFR risk-benefit assessment, and when crafting its final recommendations (especially regarding policy decisions about funding of GOFR in particular). The ethical and decision-making framework ultimately developed is based on the idea that there are numerous ethically relevant dimensions upon which any given case of GOFR can fare better or worse (as opposed to there being necessary conditions that are either satisfied or not satisfied, where all must be satisfied in order for a given case of GOFR to be considered ethically acceptable): research imperative, proportionality, minimization of risks, manageability of risks, justice, good governance (i.e., democracy), evidence, and international outlook and engagement. Rather than drawing a sharp bright line between GOFR studies that are ethically acceptable and those that are ethically unacceptable, this framework is designed to indicate where any given study would fall on an ethical spectrum—where imaginable cases of GOFR might range from those that are most ethically acceptable (perhaps even ethically praiseworthy or ethically obligatory), at one end of the spectrum, to those that are most ethically problematic or unacceptable (and thus should not be funded, or conducted), at the other. The aim should be that any GOFR pursued (and/or funded) should be as far as possible towards the former end of the spectrum.
      PubDate: 2016-08-08
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9810-1
  • The Application of Standards and Recommendations to Clinical Ethics
           Consultation in Practice: An Evaluation at German Hospitals
    • Authors: Maximilian Schochow; Giovanni Rubeis; Florian Steger
      Abstract: Abstract The executive board of the Academy for Ethics in Medicine (AEM) and two AEM working groups formulated standards and recommendations for clinical ethics consultation in 2010, 2011, and 2013. These guidelines comply with the international standards like those set by the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. There is no empirical data available yet that could indicate whether these standards and recommendations have been implemented in German hospitals. This desideratum is addressed in the present study. We contacted 1.858 German hospitals between September 2013 and January 2014. A follow-up survey was conducted between October 2014 and January 2015. The data of the initial survey and the follow-up survey were merged and evaluated. The statements of the participants were compared with the standards and recommendations. The standards of the AEM concerning the tasks of clinical ethics consultation (including ethics consultation, ethics training and the establishment of policy guidelines) are employed by a majority of participants of the study. Almost all of these participants document their consultation activities by means of protocols or entries in the patient file. There are deviations from the recommendations of the AEM working groups regarding the drafting of statutes, activity reports, and financial support. The activities of clinical ethics consultation predominantly comply with the standards of the AEM and recommendations for the documentation. The recommendations for evaluation should be improved in practice. This applies particularly for activity reports in order to evaluate the activities. Internal evaluation could take place accordingly.
      PubDate: 2016-08-02
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9805-y
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