I took the CITI course almost two years ago, but I went back and took some tests to refresh my memory. I did re-learn some thins through the course, but by and large I didn’t relate much in terms of my own experiences and understandings. I don’t have much personal experience with ethics and ethical dilemmas (which I would say is a good thing?) so I wasn’t able to fully relate to the work. That being said, I did gain a deeper and better understanding of potential ethical issues in general.
After reading the first article about the VCU study with twins, I can see a few ethical implications. Like the father said, it could be seen as an invasion of privacy for everyone who is involved whether its tangentially or not. This brings up the issue of confidentiality and informed consent. Can someone consent when they don’t even know they’re being studied? Their information should be kept confidential, even though they aren’t directly involved, right?
There was also the issue of IRB regulations. While they do have a set standard of regulations, there is still some room for interpretation between boards. But is requiring the boards to screen more really going to help research, or simply bog down researchers with more administrative tasks? There comes a point when there is too much.
I think that, at times, researchers do come across difficult decisions that cannot be easily solved. Promising compensation for participation could be seen as coercion or undermining informed consent. When researching children, it’s hard to make sure you aren’t overstepping any boundaries with the parents of the kids. These types of situations and more are difficult to traverse, and that is what the IRB is for. In murkier cases, researchers should defer back to the IRB to make sure their decisions are ethically sound. While we would like to avoid too much administrative tasks in order to conduct research, there’s no denying that the safety of the subjects comes first. There should be more regulations in place in order to make research standards clearer and easier to follow.