The use of biological samples in research raises a number of ethical issues in relation to consent, storage, export, benefit sharing and re-use of samples. Participant perspectives have been explored in North America and Europe, with only a few studies reported in Africa. The amount of research being conducted in Africa is growing exponentially with volumes of biological samples being exported from the African continent. In order to investigate the perspectives of African research participants, we conducted a study at research (...) sites in the Western Cape and Gauteng, South Africa. (shrink)
Background There is a dearth of information on the prevalence of scientific misconduct from Nigeria. Objectives This study aimed at determining the prevalence of scientific misconduct in a group of researchers in Nigeria. Factors associated with the prevalence were ascertained. Method A descriptive study of researchers who attended a scientific conference in 2010 was conducted using the adapted Scientific Misconduct Questionnaire-Revised (SMQ-R). Results Ninety-one researchers (68.9%) admitted having committed at least one of the eight listed forms of scientific misconduct. Disagreement (...) about authorship was the most common form of misconduct committed (36.4%) while plagiarism was the least (9.2%). About 42% of researchers had committed falsification of data or plagiarism. Analysis of specific acts of misconduct showed that committing plagiarism was inversely associated with years in research (Fisher exact p-value = 0.02); falsifying data was related to perceived low effectiveness of the institution's rules and procedures for reducing scientific misconduct (X2 = 6.44, p-value = 0.01); and succumbing to pressure from study sponsor to engage in unethical practice was related to sex of researcher (Fisher exact p-value = 0.02). Conclusions The emergent data from this study is a cause for serious concern and calls for prompt intervention. The best response to reducing scientific misconduct will proceed from measures that contain both elements of prevention and enforcement. Training on research ethics has to be integrated into the curriculum of undergraduate and postgraduate students while provision should be made for in-service training of researchers. Penalties against acts of scientific misconduct should be enforced at institutional and national levels. (shrink)
Misconduct in research tarnishes the reputation, credibility and integrity of research institutions. Studies on research or scientific misconduct are still novel in developing countries. In this study, we report on the attitudes, perceptions and factors related to the work environment thought to be associated with research misconduct in a group of researchers in Nigeria - a developing country.
BackgroundThe ethical concerns associated with HIV prevention and treatment research have been widely explored in South Africa over the past 3 decades. However, HIV cure research is relatively new to the region and significant ethical and social challenges are anticipated. There has been no published empirical enquiry in Africa into key informant perspectives on HIV cure research. Consequently, this study was conducted to gain preliminary data from South African HIV clinicians, researchers and activists.MethodsIn-depth interviews were conducted on a purposive sample (...) of fourteen key informants in South Africa. Audiotaped interviews were transcribed verbatim with concurrent thematic analysis. The perspectives of HIV clinicians, researchers and activists were captured. Analyst triangulation occurred as the data were analysed by three authors independently.ResultsThe rapid evolution of HIV cure research agendas was prominent with participants expressing some concern that the global North was driving the cure agenda. Participants described a symbiotic relationship between cure, treatment and prevention research necessitating collaboration. Assessing and managing knowledge and expectations around HIV cure research emerged as a central theme related to challenges to constructing ‘cure’ - how patients understand the idea of cure is important in explaining the complexity of cure research especially in the South African context where understanding of science is often challenging. Managing expectations and avoiding curative misconception will have implications for consent processes. Unique strategies in cure research could include treatment interruption, which has the potential to create therapeutic and ethical conflict and will be perceived as a significant risk. Ethical challenges in cure research will impact on informed consent and community engagement.ConclusionsIt was encouraging to note the desire for synergy amongst researchers and clinicians working in the fields of prevention, treatment and cure. Translation of complex HIV cure science into lay language is critical. Moving forward, RECs must be adequately constituted with scientific expertise and community representation when reviewing cure protocols. It is hoped that knowledge and resource sharing in the context of collaboration between research scientists working in cure and those working in treatment and prevention will accelerate progress towards cure. (shrink)
Consent processes for clinical trials involving HIV prevention research have generated considerable debate globally over the past three decades. HIV cure/eradication research is scientifically more complex and consequently, consent processes for clinical trials in this field are likely to pose a significant challenge. Given that research efforts are now moving toward HIV eradication, stakeholder engagement to inform appropriate ethics oversight of such research is timely. This study sought to establish the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders in HIV treatment (...) and research to inform consent processes for cure research. In total, 68 South African stakeholders participated in two qualitative research modalities. In-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 42 individuals - audiotaped with consent. Twenty-six stakeholders participated in three focus group discussions. Thematic analysis of transcribed IDIs and FGDs was conducted. The majority of respondents indicated that there could be unique challenges in HIV cure research requiring special attention. In particular, given the complexity of cure science, translation of concepts into lay language would be critical for potential participants to adequately appreciate risks and benefits in early phase research with experimental interventions. Furthermore, to aid understanding of risks and benefits against a background of desperation for a cure, specially trained facilitators would be required to assist with a psychological assessment prior to consent to avoid curative misconceptions. Long-term participant engagement to assess durability of a cure would mean that the consent process would be prolonged, necessitating annual re-consent. Building trust to maintain such long-term relationships would be critical to retain study participants. Unique consent requirements for cure research in South Africa would include significant efforts to maximise understanding of trial procedures, risks and the need for long-term follow-up. However, the psychological dimension of cure must not be underestimated. Beyond an understanding of cure science, the emotional impact of HIV cure advances the discourse from cure to healing. Consequently, the consent process for cure research would need to be enhanced to include psychological support and counselling. This has several important implications for research ethics review requirements for consent in HIV cure research. (shrink)