A co-authored paper, based on the masters thesis of UKZN Psychology graduate Ms Jenifer Koen, has been cited in a recent editorial in the prestigious scientific journal Nature (see https://www.nature.com/news/too-many-academics-study-the-same-people-1.22967).

The paper, co-authored by Koen, her supervisor Professor Doug Wassenaar and collaborator Dr Nicole Mamotte, is titled: The “Over Researched Community”: An Ethics Analysis of Stakeholder Views at Two South African HIV Prevention Research Sites. It was recently published in Social Science and Medicine (December 2017) – see https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027795361730610X?via%3Dihub.

The paper aimed to critically interrogate stakeholder views on the increasing use of the term “over-researched communities” in research ethics debates and deliberations.

The study was supported by the UKZN HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group (HAVEG) and funded by the South African Medical Research Council through the SA AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) with input from the UKZN South African Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI), which is funded by the Fogarty International Center of the United States National Institutes of Health.

The study, which interviewed research ethics committee members, health researchers and community advisory board members, showed that, from a research ethics perspective, the term “over-researched community” had no single clear ethical meaning, and that its meaning needed to be carefully and critically interrogated when it arose to determine its significance for research ethics committees and other health research stakeholders.

Wassenaar hopes to assign a PhD student to follow-up and explore this topic further with clinical trial participants and community members.