Tag Archives: Ethics in research

Recommended: Bending the rules of clinical trials

Many clinical trials have restrictive entry criteria to insure homogeneity of the subject pool which increases power and allows the study to proceed with a not too outrageous sample size. But what if you (or one of your patients) would really benefit from being part of the trial, but does not meet the entry criteria? This study discusses the ethical problems that ensue when a doctor is faced with such a choice. Continue reading

Recommended: How a Feel-Good AI Story Went Wrong in Flint

Building a great statistical model does no one any good if it doesn’t pay attention to non-statistical issues. This story talks about a machine learning model to identify which houses in Flint Michagan that were the best candidates for removal of lead pipes. The model worked fairly well, but came up against problems like individual city council members wanting to assure their constituents that enough was being done in their district. I’m not sure what the actual moral of this story is, but it does serve as a warning to be careful when you are modeling data in a contentous area. Continue reading

Recommended: Making women in science visible

This video was recommended by my niece, and it caught my eye for a more subtle theme, perhaps. Rachel Ignotofsky is a great believer that illustration makes difficult material more accessible. This supports an idea I’ve had for a while to develop a book of case studies in research ethics using a graphic novel format. Anyway, the video also emphasizes the importance of recognizing barriers of sexism, racism, and classism that many great women scientists have faced and overcome. This video is a fairly easy 15 minutes to listen to. Continue reading

Recommended: Congratulations on the Promotion. But Did Science Get a Demotion?

I am recommending this article, not because I agree with it, but because it reinforces a common theme: the struggle to get and keep funding is skewing research as much as or more than conflicts caused by direct financial support. Like many of the previous articles on the topic, I find this article to be rife with speculation and lacking any empirical data to support the issue. I outlined similar concerns on my website back in 2005. Recently, the belief that obtaining a government grant somehow taints your credibility has led to a purge of good scientists from many EPA advisory panels.

I think this article offers bad advice and bad conclusions. But please read this article and decide for yourself. Continue reading

PMean: Misunderstanding autism

A friend of mine posted an inspiring story published in the Washington Post. Unfortunately, it did not inspire me, but rather made me worried about how often we misunderstand autism and how much trouble this causes. It’s not statistics, per se, but rather represents an example of how research on new approaches for patients with autism can end up being abusive. Continue reading

Recommended: Research vs Quality Improvement

I ran across a one page handout in PDF format that discussed the difference between research and quality improvement. It was written from the perspective of the IRB (Institutional Review Board) at UMKC. It’s a nice summary, although the topic is a bit more complex than a single page handout might imply. This is a good starting point for deciding what type of study you want to do. Continue reading