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1st ACM conference on research ethics

07/05/2016

On 1 July, Aristos Campus Mundus (ACM) held the first Conference on Research Ethics. It focused on providing and sharing information and experiences related to the ethical aspects of research. The event targeted ACM researchers and was held at the Rector’s offices at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona.  

The welcoming address and presentation were delivered by the Rector of Ramon Llull University, Josep Maria Garrell and the Vice Rector of Research and Innovation, Lluís Comellas. Garrell’s speech highlighted the synergies between the three universities with special emphasis on their Christian values. The Rector’s reflection centred on the differential role that universities must play in research and explained that there is an implicit code at universities which “although it is unwritten, ethical principles take precedence over economic resources”. He encouraged the attendees to take up the challenge of transferring the content of the conference to the research community “so that what we achieve here today has an impact among the research community. Comellas added that, in this sense, “there is still a long way to go”.

The opening session followed with “Good practices in research” delivered by Francesc Torralba, Chair in Ethos URL and a member of the Campus of International Excellence, Ramon LLull University. He explained Anglo-Saxon and American bioethical traditions in his talk. In addition to the most well-known principles (do no harm, autonomy, charity and justice), he spoke in depth on dignity, integrity, autonomy, vulnerability, veracity and confidentiality. Torralba offered a principalist reflection: “there is no agreement or consensus concerning what principles ethics should be based on”. He ended his talk by presenting several dilemmas and trilemmas related to research ethics which call for reflection. 

Lluís Comellas, Cristina de la Cruz (University of Deusto) and Federico Montalvo (Comillas Pontifical University) then explained their respective universities’ experiences with Research Ethics Committees.

Federico Montalvo, a member of the UNESCO International Committee on Bioethics and Vice President of the Spanish Bioethics Committee, gave the following speech: Regulations to take into account when preparing and implementing research projects.

The following working groups then met to discuss:

How to self-assess fulfilment of ethical principles in research projects?  A total of four working groups from different scientific fields (social sciences and humanities, health sciences, management and engineering) met. They were dynamised by one or two speakers and worked on the ethical aspects required in research project applications and evaluations at the Spanish and European levels, among other subjects. The conference closed with a session offering an overview of the conclusions reached in the working groups and the conference as a whole.   

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