Committee on Human Research (CHR): 2011 Annual Report

Thomas Eissenberg, Chair

In keeping with its mission to facilitate the conduct of and training in scientifically and ethically responsible research involving humans, in 2011 the Committee on Human Research (CHR) focused its efforts on education, outreach, and policy issues.

Education and Outreach Initiatives

  • Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research: Pursuant to a discussion about the APA Science Directorate sponsoring an annual summer training opportunity, beginning in 2013, aimed at educating graduate students, recent post‐doctoral fellows, and early career faculty on substantive topics surrounding research ethics and responsible conduct of research with people and other animals, the Committee drafted a proposal highlighting a three‐year plan for the training program, titled “Research Ethics Summer Training (REST).” The proposal included topics to be discussed (i.e., the nine categories of Responsible Conduct of Research), an outline of the three‐year schedule, fees for the training, as well as a budget. Staff agreed to finalize the proposal and distribute to the Committee for approval. After the Committee approves the proposal, staff will forward the proposal to the Deputy Executive Director of the Science Directorate, Howard Kurtzman for consideration.

  • CHR Convention Program: In its effort to raise awareness and provide a forum for dialogues focused on ethical issues raised in human research, at the 2011 APA Convention, CHR organized a session on an important emerging issue in neuroethics –incidental findings in genomics research and research using imaging technologies. With the increasing use of imaging technologies and inclusion of genomics components in behavioral research, psychologists now need to grapple with both ethical and practical issues surrounding incidental findings in research.

  • E‐technologies in Psychological Science Research: Recognizing that current definitions and guidelines for data security, privacy, and consent in research are being challenged by the increased use of electronic media and communication technologies, CHR drafted a brief proposal for a workshop to identify methodological and ethical issues arising from the use of e‐technologies in research. The Committee is seeking to collaborate with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on this project.

Policy and Regulations

  • Revision of APA Guidelines: The Committee finalized a draft of its revised APA Guidelines for ethical conduct of behavioral projects involving human participants by high school students. The draft Guidelines were approved by BSA in late fall 2011. CHR will solicit comments from all other APA governance groups during the 2012 spring consolidated meetings. Comments will also be solicited from divisions, state and provincial associations, and the public at large.

  • Comments on Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making: On behalf of APA, CHR submitted comments on an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) to revise federal regulations for the protection of human research participants. The ANPRM was published in the July 26, 2011 Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP).

Future plans and development of new initiatives

CHR generated a list of potential initiatives for the Committee and began to prioritize them. The short list includes:

  • Interpreting federal regulations for psychological research 
    The Committee plans to develop resources to facilitate appropriate IRB review of psychological research

  • Ethical issues for psychologists involved in interdisciplinary and team research
    The trend toward interdisciplinary research and team science raises a number of ethical and regulatory issues for researchers. The Committee will delve into these issues and intends to develop resources to assist psychologists who are participating in large collaborative projects.

Membership Changes

As decided upon at its first meeting, there were no changes to the membership of this inaugural Committee. All founding members agreed to serve a full‐three year term, after which 2 or 3 members would rotate off in subsequent years.