Scientists Are Just as Confused About the Ethics of Big-Data Research as You

Scientists Are Just as Confused About the Ethics of Big-Data Research as You

By Fouad Bendris

Institutional review boards have long governed research ethics, but do they need to evolve in the digital age?

Of course, companies experiment on us all the time, whether it’s websites A/B testing headlines or grocery stores changing the configuration of their checkout line. But as these companies hire more data scientists out of PhD programs, academics are seeing an opportunity to bridge the divide and use that data to contribute to public knowledge. Maybe updated ethical guidelines can be forged out of those collaborations. Or it just might be a mess for a while …

Fouad Bendris’s insight:
And the patchwork of review boards responsible for overseeing those risks are only slowly inching into the 21st century. Under the Common Rule in the US, federally funded research has to go through ethical review. Rather than one unified system though, every single university has its own institutional review board, or IRB. Most IRB members are researchers at the university, most often in the biomedical sciences. Few are professional ethicists !

Source:: Strategy & Governance

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