Committee on Human Research (CHR): 2012 Annual Report

Members: Daniel Marson (Chair), Thomas Eissenberg, Miriam Kelty, Vivian Ota Wang, Barbara Stanley, Mieke Verfaellie, Frank Wong, and Sangeeta Panicker (APA Staff Liaison).

In keeping with its mission to facilitate the conduct of and training in scientifically and ethically responsible research involving humans, in 2012 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: After receiving feedback from the Deputy Executive Director of the Science Directorate, Howard Kurtzman, on a proposal for a Science Directorate sponsored “Research Ethics Summer Training Series,” the Committee resubmitted a revised proposal for a one-day preconvention workshop on responsible conduct of research (RCR). The workshop is aimed at training graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career scientists on RCR topics such as protection of human and nonhuman animal subjects, research integrity, responsible publication practices, peer review, collaborative science, mentor-trainee relationships, data sharing, and dealing with conflicts of interests. This training program will allow federally funded researchers to meet the requirement for continuing education in RCR.

  • CHR Convention Program: In its effort to keep the APA membership and the psychological science community at large informed on current regulatory issues in research with human participants, at the 2012 APA convention, CHR organized a session on the proposed revisions to the federal regulations for the protection of human participants 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 is collaborating with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to undertake a comprehensive study of the methodological and ethical issues involved with the use of e-technologies in research with human participants. The group is currently seeking external funding for the project.

Policy and Regulations

  • Revision of APA Guidelines: In spring 2012, the Committee solicited comments from all APA governance groups, divisions, state and provincial associations, and the public at large on the revised draft APA Guidelines for Ethical Conduct of Behavioral Projects Involving Human Participants by High School Students. The draft uidelines were approved by the board of directors in June 2012, and adopted as APA policy by the Council of Representatives in Aug. 2012.

  • Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making: The Committee is continuing to monitor the status of the proposal to revise the federal regulations for the protection of human research participants. The proposal was published as an Advance Notice of Rule Making (ANPRM) by the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) in the July 26, 2011, edition of the Federal Register. APA officially responded to the ANPRM, with substantive input from CHR.

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.

  • Development of a model curriculum
    The Committee plans to develop a model curriculum for research ethics that can be used as a stand-alone research ethics course, or for integration into a pre-existing general ethics course.

Membership Changes

Thomas Eissenberg, Miriam Kelty, Daniel Marson, Vivian Ota Wang, Barbara Stanley, Mieke Verfaellie, and Frank Wong continued to serve on the Committee during 2012. Drs. Eissenberg, Kelty, and Verfaellie rotated off the Committee at the end of 2012, and were replaced by James DuBois, Janine Jennings, and Cheryl King in 2013.