Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Apr 5. [Epub ahead of print]
Research Guidelines in the Era of Large-scale Collaborations: An Analysis of Genome-wide Association Study Consortia.
Scientific research has shifted from studies conducted by single investigators to the creation of large consortia. Genetic epidemiologists, for example, now collaborate extensively for genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The effect has been a stream of confirmed disease-gene associations. However, effects on human subjects oversight, data-sharing, publication and authorship practices, research organization and productivity, and intellectual property remain to be examined. The aim of this analysis was to identify all research consortia that had published the results of a GWAS analysis since 2005, characterize them, determine which have publicly accessible guidelines for research practices, and summarize the policies in these guidelines. A review of the National Human Genome Research Institute's Catalog of Published Genome-Wide Association Studies identified 55 GWAS consortia as of April 1, 2011. These consortia were comprised of individual investigators, research centers, studies, or other consortia and studied 48 different diseases or traits. Only 14 (25%) were found to have publicly accessible research guidelines on consortia websites. The available guidelines provide information on organization, governance, and research protocols; half address institutional review board approval. Details of publication, authorship, data-sharing, and intellectual property vary considerably. Wider access to consortia guidelines is needed to establish appropriate research standards with broad applicability to emerging forms of large-scale collaboration.
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