by Celia B. Fisher, PhD, and Elizabeth Yuko, PhD, Fordham University Center for Ethics Education
Conducting empirical research on research ethics can be daunting. It requires thinking beyond the ethics of a treatment, procedure, or new technology to considerations involving the scientific validity, social value, and potential ethical challenges of the research process itself. Nonetheless, ongoing evidence-based research is crucial for the advancement and improvement of the responsible conduct of research.
The Fordham University Center for Ethics Education, in partnership with the Fordham HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute, has addressed the need for resources in this area through the creation of the Research Ethics Scales and Measures website. The site was developed with the intention of encouraging empirical research on research ethics by providing researchers with existing scales and measures—quantitative tools such as questionnaires and surveys—they can utilize or adapt in their own research.
This continuously updated evidence-based research ethics resource includes an extensive index of scales and measures for investigators who wish to study all aspects of research ethics, including consent capacities of vulnerable populations, participant perspectives on research risks and benefits, attitudes toward and challenges facing IRB protocol evaluations, and the effectiveness and challenges of community engaged research.
The site also contains an extensive bibliography of methodological approaches to conducting empirical research on research ethics. Users may search for measures by content area keywords (e.g., monetary compensation, or motivation to participate) or by method (e.g., evaluations, interviews, questionnaires or vignettes).
As the only comprehensive source of its kind, Research Ethics Scales and Measures website has received national attention. The site was mentioned in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Minority Health newsletter, and has been listed as a resource on the American Anthropological Association’s website and the National Academy of Engineering’s Evaluation Tools website.
IRB members and investigators are encouraged to submit their own research ethics scales and measures for consideration, or submit any measures that are not included on the site. Please send submissions to Elizabeth Yuko.
In addition to the Research Ethics Scales and Measures website, the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Research Ethics Training Institute also makes available several other research ethics resources. More than 500 empirical and theoretical articles and chapters are included in the continuously updated HIV and drug abuse prevention bibliography, and are categorized by topic.
The resources website also contains pages with downloadable lectures given by faculty of the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute, information on research ethics regulations and guidelines, and relevant government and organization resources.
IRB members and investigators are also encouraged to submit commentary to the Center’s Ethics and Society blog, which provides the most up-to-date ethics news, opinion pieces, funding and job opportunities, event listings, calls for papers or conferences, and other relevant announcements.
Celia B. Fisher, PhD, is the Marie Ward Doty University Chair, professor of psychology, and director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education and the Fordham HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute. She has served on the National Academies' Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Committee, the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, chaired the Environmental Protection Agency’s Human Studies Review Board, and received the 2010 Health Improvement Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Human Research Protection.
Elizabeth Yuko, PhD, is a bioethicist at the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education and the program administrator for the Fordham HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute. She is the senior editor of Ethics and Society.