Research Ethics Roundup: The latest on participant-led research, reporting standards, and much more!

Spring is finally here, and with it comes a new edition of the Research Ethics Roundup! Before you head out to the garden this weekend, take a moment to review these articles from the world of research ethics. From an appeal for stricter reporting standards worldwide, to a discussion of oversight in participant-led research, this bouquet of recent headlines is sure to brighten up your day!

Ethics panel sets high bar for anthrax vaccine research in children: The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has established a set of restrictive guidelines for testing the anthrax vaccine on children. Experts argue that because the threat of an anthrax attack is theoretical rather than real, research should be performed only if it poses no more than a minor increase over minimal risk. There is no consensus yet on whether these guidelines will prevent this type of research from happening in the future.|

Ethical oversight necessary for participant-led research: This blog post from FierceHealthIT summarizes the findings of a recent study of research conducted through the use of online social networks. “Crowd sourced” or “participant-led” research raises some interesting ethical questions relating to regulation and oversight. As Jeffrey Kahn of Johns Hopkins said, the internet “should not be turned into the Wild West of health research; rather, its unique features must be used to effectively and creatively satisfy the ethical requirements of the research consent process.”

Fight for clinical data ‘needs to go global’: This blog post from Nature reports on a current debate in the UK over how to improve the public image of medical research, without discouraging clinical research from being conducted in Europe. Many argue that strict enforcement of reporting standards must be conducted at a global level to be effective.

Doubts about Johns Hopkins research have gone unanswered, scientist says: When Daniel Yuan, a medical doctor and statistician, raised concerns about the methods involved in a particular research study, he encountered significant resistance from the research institution, the publishing journal, as well as the federal funding agency. This article documents the subsequent events which led to Yuan’s dismissal from his post, and the apparent suicide of the lead investigator.