Research Ethics Roundup: Questions Raised by Same-Sex Marriage Study, Rapid Research, and More

From research being conducted by Facebook to questions raised by a study on public opinion of same-sex marriage, this week’s Research Ethics Roundup delves into the world of social and behavioral research. Read on to learn more about these and other stories in the world of research ethics and oversight.

Do You Consent?
: In  this piece for Slate, James Grimmelmann, JD, considers questions raised by studies conducted by Facebook and other entities outside of the traditional research realm, and considers the role of research oversight in those contexts.
Ebola Teaches Tough Lessons About Rapid Research: The Ebola outbreak has largely drawn to a close, with the number of cases dwindling. However, policymakers, researchers, and ethicists are reflecting on lessons learned from the outbreak in an effort to develop a framework for research on experimental vaccines and therapeutics should future outbreaks occur. Erika Check Hayden, BS, explores those efforts in this article for Nature.
Study on Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Marriage Is Retracted by a Scientific Journal: Last week, in a move that garnered widespread attention among social science researchers, Science magazine retracted a study that suggested “attitudes toward same-sex marriage could be altered by brief face-to-face conversations with people who have a stake in the issue.” In this piece for The New York Times, Benedict Carey highlights the concerns that led to the retraction.
Harvard Primate Lab’s End Puzzles Researchers: Carolyn Y. Johnson, MS, reports on the closure of Harvard University’s New England Primate Research Center in this article for The Boston Globe. The center, which was one of a few of its kind in the US, has been the subject of public scrutiny in recent years following the death of monkeys at the facility.
The  Ethics of Punking the Diet-Research Media Complex (and Millions of Readers): Michelle Meyer, PhD, JD, discusses the work of several German journalists, a doctor, and a statistician who sought to demonstrate “how easy it is for bad science to be published and reported by the media” by publishing a study that suggested eating chocolate might be good for you. Meyer examines the ethics of the group’s work in this piece for Bill of Health.