Issue 1
Monday, 04 March 2019
Charles Darwin University
Professor Marilynne N Kirshbaum: shining a light on human research ethics
Professor Marilynne N Kirshbaum: shining a light on human research ethics

Ethics front and centre in research workshops

By Andrew Hall

Professor Marilynne N Kirshbaum is committed to enable, motivate and inspire others to follow a path of integrity, compassion, justice, truth and intelligence in research.

As Chair of CDU’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), Professor Kirshbaum recently presented a workshop to equip College of Nursing and Midwifery researchers with the information they need to have HREC applications approved with ease.

Professor Kirshbaum said research efforts involving people more often than not needed to receive approval on ethical grounds and adhere strictly to criteria laid out in the National Statement and guidelines for research conduct of the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) of Australia.

“In addition, research applications involving Indigenous people or communities, must demonstrate six core ethical values of respect, reciprocity, responsibility, cultural continuity and equity, which all feed into the central pillar of spirit and integrity,” she said.

“In my workshops I also explain what ‘research’ actually is in terms of HREC applications, which aren’t always necessary if a researcher is basing their work on interpreting non-identifiable data that are available in the public domain.”

Professor Kirshbaum said ethical reviews of human research were conducted to uphold ethical principles and mitigate a range of risk factors associated with these.

“Risk can manifest in numerous ways including physical, social, psychological, economic . . . any time the research puts a person in what might be a compromising situation is what we are looking at, even if the imposition on a research subject is as simple as taking up that person’s time,” she said.

“The scrutiny our committee applies to research applications is informed by historical incidents where people have been directly and indirectly harmed by being the subjects of research efforts.”

For information about future HREC workshops contact Professor Kirshbaum at: