Meet members of the Research Ethics Panels

On Monday we focussed on the work of the Research Ethics Panel and yesterday we heard from Dr Orlanda Harvey who visited the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Panel as part of her PhD journey.

Today you get to meet some of its members with the focus on the Science, Technology & Health Research Ethics Panel (STH REP).


Dr Liam Wignall (Psychology Department)

My research explores different aspects of sex and sexuality, looking at sexual identities and the experiences of non-heterosexuals; changing sexual practices, including during COVID-19kink activities and the changing role of the internet. Given my research interests on the often personal topic of sexuality, I am keenly aware of the need to consider the ethical implications of any research conducted. I have sat on numerous ethics panels and had fascinating discussions about my research and the ethical considerations. This has ranged from thinking about the wording of the questions and how participants may perceive them, to making sure I think of my own safety when collecting data in the field. These discussions forced me to think about how I conduct research and providing justifications for each step, ultimately improving my studies.

I became a member of the panel so that I could offer the same advice to others when they were conducting research, asking other researchers the same questions that I was once asked: “What precautions have you taken should things go wrong?”; “How are you protecting yourself when conducting research on a sensitive topic?”; “Do participants know what will happen to their data?” Often when conducting research, we can become so focused on one aspect of the project that it’s helpful for others to ask these questions – I see this as one of the jobs of the ethics panel.

The principal role of the STH REP is to ensure that all research is conducted in an ethical way, following principles and procedures set out by BU and associated bodies (e.g., British Psychological Society). I see my role on the panel as encouraging researchers to consider how they can follow these guidelines to conduct great research. Ethics is not about preventing research from being done, it’s thinking about how good research can be done in an ethical way.

On a personal note, it’s also amazing to see the range of research projects being conducted at Bournemouth University. Being on the panel allows me to chat with colleagues across the faculty and ask them about their research. As a panel, we have had ethical discussions relating to how technology can improve the lives of people with physical disabilities; the intricacies of how dating profiles are used; and how to explain research to children to ascertain consent. Three-hour meetings can just fly by…

Dr. Sofia Meacham (Senior Lecturer in Computing Department of Computing and Informatics)

“Why did I become a member?”

I became a member of the STH REP three years ago through my strong interest on the subject as part of my own research. Specifically, ethical considerations for Artificial Intelligence decision making and their acceptance from scientific and wider community was the matter that I came across first in my research. This raised an interest in how the two worlds: technical achievement and ethical considerations can be combined and the challenges arising from this combination can be overcome. Finding a community of like-minded academics from several fields was obviously the next step to progress this interest, get accustomed with BU’s processes on the matter and contribute through my previous knowledge on technical and ethical matters. Last but not least, ethics has been an integral part of my education from an early stage such as primary school through ancient Greek philosophy and family traditions.

“What do you like about being a member?”

After becoming a member and although the participation is voluntarily, I enjoyed every aspect of it. Without exaggeration, I have been given the option to reduce my workload by stepping down which I have rejected! Being a member, the panel discussions once a month provide a multi-disciplinary approach opening my personal horizons and patterns of thought. There is a democratic handling of all opinions and there is not a single meeting that was not beneficial and enjoyable. Although the panel meetings are taking place with a pleasant environment, the responsibility that the committee has to academia and the society is being taken very seriously.

Last but not least, I would like to emphasize that ethical considerations are of increasing importance in todays rapid technological and other developments. Academia should play integral role to ensure that research developments are performed in alignment with ethical considerations and STH REP is an excellent place within our BU academic community.

Thank you Liam and Sofia!

Tomorrow you get to meet members from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Ethics Panel