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Posted: Saturday, October 7th, 2017

Graduate Research Assistantships in Research Ethics

Sunday, January 7th, 2018
Western University

London, Ontario, Canada

Prof. Charles Weijer
We are seeking two doctoral students interested in the ethics of pragmatic randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to pursue their graduate education in the Department of Philosophy at Western University. The Graduate Research Assistantships in Research Ethics are research positions that run concurrently with the philosophy graduate programme. Students will be expected to contribute to a Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded project that includes a competitive stipend to supplement the funding package from Western University. The successful candidates will join our diverse research team, comprising philosophers, trialists and biostatisticians from five countries, who are developing guidance for the ethical design and conduct of pragmatic RCTs. Pragmatic RCTs test if an intervention works in real-world conditions and support decision-making by patients, providers and health system managers. A description of the project is available at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy website.

Core members of our research team have worked together for a decade. Previous work explored ethical issues in cluster randomized trials (CRTs). CRTs differ from conventional randomized trials in that intact social units—rather than individuals—are randomly allocated to study interventions. Our research team analyzed the ethical issues in CRTs in a series of articles in the journal Trials. Empirical studies included interviews with trialists, a systematic review of published CRTs and a survey of research ethics committees in three countries. In 2012, we published the world’s first ethical guidelines for CRTs, the Ottawa Statement on the Ethical Design and Conduct of Cluster Randomized Trials. Our trainees have benefitted from mentoring by diverse faculty members in the research team. Our trainees have gone on to research and faculty positions at Harvard University, the University of Oxford and other excellent institutions. Our new project will build and expand upon our previous work and address the clear need for ethics guidance for pragmatic RCTs.

Successful candidates will have a strong background in moral theory or philosophy of science, and will be expected to participate fully in the activities of our interdisciplinary research team. These activities include research on ethical issues specific to pragmatic RCTs, collaborations with scholars from other disciplines, presenting work at conferences, writing academic papers for philosophy and medical journals, and engaging the public through education and social media.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the project, successful candidates must (1) be able to work within and across disciplinary boundaries, (2) communicate effectively, (3) be highly motivated and (4) demonstrate professionalism. A Master’s degree in applied ethics, bioethics or philosophy of science is preferred, but not required. Accomplished and exceptionally motivated individuals in relevant fields will also receive full consideration. Questions about the research positions may be addressed to Prof. Charles Weijer.

Applicants for the Graduate Research Assistantships in Research Ethics should send a cover letter, CV, university transcripts and writing sample to Prof. Charles Weijer on or before January 7, 2018. Applicants must (1) independently submit all required materials to the philosophy graduate programme by January 7, 2018 and (2) be selected for admission to the graduate program. Click here for more information on graduate studies in philosophy at Western University. Successful applicants for the Graduate Research Assistantships in Research Ethics will be notified in March 2018, and the positions begin in September 2018.

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