Ethics and Conduct and Governance….OH MY!!

Similar to Lions and Tigers and Bears, these nasty words often send a chill down the spine of researchers across the globe!

“More roadblocks to delay my research?!” 

“Hinder-full, not helpful!” 

“Once you think you’ve ticked all the boxes, read all the policy/procedure and signed your life away, SMACK – the conduct officer hits you with a new hurdle!”

Sound familiar?  These are just a few examples of the misconception towards my full-time job.  Hello, my name is Julia Hastings Taylor and I am the University’s Research Development Officer responsible for ethics and conduct.  Prior to joining BU I received my Masters in International Political Economy from LSE and before moving across the pond, I worked for the US Intelligence Community tracking down drug lords in SW Asia, Europe, and Africa.  Drug traffickers—as opposed to university researchers—tend to not concern themselves with ethics or conduct, so I’m pleased to be part of an organization that takes compliance seriously!

My first mission—as impossible as it may seem—is to change the way researchers view ethics and conduct (and me, for that matter).  I’m not the Big Bad Wolf and I don’t plan to ‘blow your research down’; on the contrary, I am here to support you, and strengthen the University’s research governance structure.  Leave the scary ethics maze to me – I know the way and I will point you in the right direction.  Struggling to understand and/or comply with funder regulations – don’t fret, it’s my job to ensure all regulations are clear and we have an easy-to-follow framework for compliance!  I plan to streamline processes and procedures, outline ‘best practices’ in both ethics and conduct and ensure that the University’s policies are not only robust but also flexible

While we’re on the topic, here are a few of my thoughts: while I wouldn’t consider myself to be a ‘tree hugger,’ I am sensible…so come on folks…this is 2012…let’s move away from printing off reams and reams of forms to fill in and sign when we can simply create online forms with digital signatures.  I like processes to be efficient, straightforward and simple and that’s what I hope to bring to the University’s ethics and conduct role.  As the next handful of months will bring change—and we all know how much everyone loves change—please give me your feedback and suggestions for improvements, and be honest about your views on research ethics and conduct; I’d like for this process to be as inclusive as possible, but I can only knock on so many doors, invite you to so many meetings/forums and ask so many questions.

So, if you happen to see me lurking around your School in the coming months, please don’t assume I’m the secret police looking for my next victim….I’m probably lost and simply trying to find the loo!

3 Responses to “Ethics and Conduct and Governance….OH MY!!”

  1. Carol Bond

    Welcome on board. Hopefully you’ll find BU a lot friendlier than the drug lords you mention.

    I’m leading a small research project around the ethics of online research, specifically focused on health related discussion boards. Happy to discuss with you if you’re passing.

  2. Edwin van Teijlingen

    Dear Julia,

    Welcome to BU. Yesterday I got news today that our short paper on the need to seek research ethics approval locally in developing countries has just been published. We made the point in this short paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics that applying for research ethics is something that needs to done in the UK as well as in countries of the South for those of use conducting international research. Padam Simkhada (Sheffield Univeristy) and I stressed in our contribution that although the paper we criticised in Social Science & Medicine by Smith and Neupane is a timely and worthwhile study for Nepal, and we don’t imply that the research is in itself in any way unethical. We stress that it is a pity that the appropriate research ethics approval had not been applied for in Nepal.

    Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

  3. Jeff Jones

    If you are going to steal my art (see copyright) you could at least give credit… see more art at
    Please pay the $24 licensing fee!