Ethical Review of Research Proposals
ASAA/NZ provides members with peer guidance by offering an ethical review of research proposals. Our peer reviews can be used to fulfil requirements that research proposals be submitted to an ethics review process, and they can also provide some protection against pressures that undermine ethical practice.
The peer review process is useful for researchers and graduate students alike. We encourage members of the Association (and HOD's of all Aotearoa/New Zealand Anthropology departments) to let new graduate students know of the ASAA/NZ Code of Ethics and our Ethics Review Procedure so they can use these facilities.
This general procedure was established at the 1991 AGM of the Association and is viewed as an interim procedure which may be further worked out in practice and revised in light of experience.
There are two variants of the procedure, as outlined in the Minutes of AGMs and in Newsletters:
Involves the researcher discussing the ethical considerations of their research proposal with two ASAA/NZ members and writing a joint statement, signed by all parties. The proposal and statement are then lodged with the Ethics Committee.
Involves the researcher discussing the ethical considerations of their research proposal with two ASAA/NZ members who read and write individual opinions on it, then the proposal and letters are lodged with the Ethics Committee.
Only if the peer reviewers detect problems or there are unresolved ethical issues, does the Ethics Committee review the proposal and provide further feedback and discussion. However, should researchers feel it necessary or helpful, they are free to ask the Ethics Committee for further feedback on particular ethical aspects of their research.
If external agencies require certification of ethical review or approval as a prerequisite for funding, permission to conduct research, or screening by their own ethics committees, the ASAA/NZ Ethics Committee will write a letter to the agency outlining the ethics review procedure and reporting on the proposal.
A number of projects have now employed the ethics review procedure, including proposals destined for the Health Research Council, the (former) Wellington Area Health Board, and the (former) Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FoRST). There has been some discussion of the procedures as applied in these cases, and they were regarded as generally helpful and worth continuing.
Have you encountered an ethically difficult situation?
Where members meet with ethically difficult situations, we suggest that they consider writing a description of them and an account of their ethical decision-making for publication in the ASAA/NZ Newsletter. This will allow for discussion and eventually constitute a file of ethics models. Please contact the Ethics Committee Chair Jeff Sluka if you would like to contribute to this discussion.