Research Ethics Consultation Service
The Program for Bioethics is responsible for directing and staffing the Research Ethics Consultation Service, which reports to the UK Office of the Vice President for Research. The Research Ethics Consultation Service is free and available to all University of Kentucky investigators, researchers, students and laboratory staff.
How do I request a research ethics consultation?
A research ethics consultation can be requested by phone or email.
When can I request a research ethics consultation?
You may call or email at any time, but please note that calls or emails received outside regular business hours will be addressed during regular business hours.
What is a research ethics consultation?
Here, a bioethicist can be consulted about various moral and ethical issues in the research setting that are not typically addressed by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) or Institutional Review Board (IRB). This includes:
- Ethical issues regarding initial trial design and theoretical ethical frameworks, such as equipoise.
- Cell line contamination and investigator obligations.
- Epistemological integrity.
- Unanticipated errors discovered mid-project and professional obligations.
- Professional/moral integrity questions.
- Moral distress over unanticipated results or unreported misconduct.
- Mentor-graduate student miscommunication or conflicts.
- Disclosure of important or sensitive information.
- Publication ethics, sharing of credit and citation protocol.
- Conflicts of interest.
Research ethics consultation facilitates early identification of ethical problems or issues in biomedical research. Through direct contact with a bioethicist about a specific research ethics question, investigators can:
- Avoid potential problems with trial design and results that can delay IRB approval
- Work through ethical issues that may present in "cutting-edge" areas such as genetics and neuroscience.
- Discuss morally sensitive issues that involve professional integrity at the benchside in a safe venue.
What should I expect if I request a research ethics consultation?
All questions will be considered, and in some cases, the researcher may be referred to another office or individual. The bioethicist will meet with the researcher and discuss the issue in person. As a follow-up, the bioethicist may provide the researcher with a literature review that is relevant, or the researcher may request an “opinion letter” as well, which could be sent to the researcher directly. Researchers who request research ethics consultations will be asked to fill out a feedback form to help track the utility of this service. Anonymity will be respected; if transparency is necessary, this will be fully disclosed to the researcher as part of the consultation process.