In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): From time-to-time, PRIM&R will feature particularly well-received posts from the recent past. These posts remain timely as topics of discussion in the fields of research ethics, human subjects protections, or animal care and use. Highlighting them now enables readers who may have missed them a chance to read and comment. In this ICYMI, Michael Zimmer delves into one of the most important - and ethically fraught - new fields of research: Big Data. Read more
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We clearly have entered the era of big data. Armed with petabytes of transaction data, clickstreams and cookie logs, as well as data from social networks, mobile phones, and the "internet of things," a wide range of economic interests, including consumer marketing, health care, manufacturing, education, and government, are now in pursuit of the value of data-driven decision-making that big data promises.
At the same time, the big data that increasingly fuels economic decision-making has emerged as a rich terrain for engaging in academic research and experimentation: think of the Facebook emotional contagion experiment of 2014, where the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users were altered [...] Read more
Throw the phrase big data out at Thanksgiving dinner and you’re guaranteed a more lively conversation. Your nervous uncle is terrified of the Orwellian possibilities that our current data collection abilities may usher in; your techie sister is thrilled with the new information and revelations we have already uncovered and those on the brink of discovery. Many people likely feel a mix of both these sentiments: enthusiasm tempered by apprehension.
Big data is bringing about change in a variety of sectors, and the health research field is one area where the potential, both positive and negative, is the most dramatic. The recent event, Big Data, Health [...] Read more
I was quite excited to find out about the Big Data: Practical Solutions to Emerging Challenges for Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) webinar offered by PRIM&R. We are in the process of revising the section of our IRB application that deals with data security at my institution, and much of the data we work with certainly fits at least one of the 12 definitions of big data noted in this article that was provided as a background resource by the presenters. Our application revision process has raised many questions: What is the exact scope of the IRB’s responsibility for ensuring researchers’ responsible use of big data? How do we anticipate potential risks, and how do we convey these risks to researchers who may not initially see the potential harms that could arise from lack of attentiveness to ethical use of data? Read more
From a new report that indicates that the use of regulated animals in biomedical research is declining to an editorial arguing for the use of female mice in research, animal research takes center stage in this week’s Research Ethics Roundup.
Conflicts of Interest on Institutional Review Boards Remain Problematic: A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that while there has been significant progress with respect to reporting and managing institutional review board (IRB) member conflict of interests, there is still more work to be done. Ed Silverman reports on the findings in this article from The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot[...] Read more