Ethics and Oversight is committed to ensuring its platform and services are used in a manner that respects, protects and promotes the rights, dignity and welfare of all persons involved in the research process (whether as participants or members of the Demos community). As an initiative of research staff at the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit based in Bangkok Thailand, complies with the University of Oxford Policy on the ethical conduct of research involving human participants and personal data and the Code of Practice and Procedure on Academic Integrity in Research.

What is the oversight process for projects?

In traditional research environments, there are three tiers of ethical review and oversight, depending on the nature of the research study:

  1. Non-risk research – for which a waiver of ethical review might be relevant
  2. Minimal risk research - an expedited ethical review is sufficient
  3. Standard research - A full ethical review

In the early, beta-phase of Demos we will approach the ethics oversight of studies in accordance with these tiers.

Non-Risk Research - Waiver of ethical review

A waiver of ethical review may be granted if the Demos study involves:

  • The testing of interventions that are not directly aimed at affecting individual physical or mental health and well-being, for instance studies exploring the effectiveness of educational methods, productivity ‘hacks’ etc.
  • The use of data that is publicly available and anonymised
  • The use of data previously collected, fully anonymised and untraceable by the research or collaborator

Minimal Risk Research - Expedited Review

Where a Demos study envisages a minimal risk to its participants, an expedited ethical review may be granted. However, the determination of minimal risk will be made by an established institutional ethics review board, based on the following indicative criteria:

  • The risk and magnitude of possible harms associated with these studies must be no greater than those of daily living activities of the volunteers
  • The interviews and research process must not anticipate distress to its volunteers and all data must remain confidential
  • The study does not involve a drug or medical device
  • The study must not involve invasive procedures

Standard Research - Full Ethical Review

If a Demos study does not fall within the criteria of ‘waiver’ or ‘expedited review’, a full research application to an established institutional EC will be made by the Demos team; and only after ethical approval is obtained will the Demos research study commence.

The Demos team will support the research team throughout the ethical review process and provide on-going ethical support and reflection throughout the study process.

A new vision of research ethics

The broader aim of Demos, however, is to create a global research platform, in which the community has ownership over the research process. In this spirit, the long-term aim is to foster a swarm-sourced ethics and oversight process, in which the ethical approval and oversight are obtained by consensus within the Demos community.