Using Participatory Design to Inform the Connected and Open Research Ethics (CORE) Commons

  • John Harlow
  • Nadir Weibel
  • Rasheed Al Kotob
  • Vincent Chan
  • Cinnamon Bloss
  • Rubi Linares-Orozco
  • Michelle Takemoto
  • Camille NebekerEmail author
Original Research/Scholarship


Mobile health (mHealth) research involving pervasive sensors, mobile apps and other novel data collection tools and methods present new ethical, legal, and social challenges specific to informed consent, data management and bystander rights. To address these challenges, a participatory design approach was deployed whereby stakeholders contributed to the development of a web-based commons to support the mHealth research community including researchers and ethics board members. The CORE (Connected and Open Research Ethics) platform now features a community forum, a resource library and a network of nearly 600 global members. The utility of the participatory design process was evaluated by analyzing activities carried out over an 8-month design phase consisting of 86 distinct events including iterative design deliberations and social media engagement. This article describes how participatory design yielded 55 new features directly mapped to community needs and discusses relationships to user engagement as demonstrated by a steady increase in CORE member activity and followers on Twitter.


Participatory design Research ethics mHealth Pervasive technology Digital medicine IRB 



This research was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Title: Connected and Open Research Ethics (CORE), Principal Investigator: Nebeker, #72876, 2015-2017) and the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Collaboratory (Co-PIs: Nebeker, Weibel and Bloss). We thank the IRB community (members, analysts) and researchers who participated in interviews and working groups to guide the design of the CORE platform features. Human subjects protection statement: The research study was certified as Exempt (45 CFR 46.101) by the UC San Diego Human Research Protections Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Harlow
    • 1
  • Nadir Weibel
    • 2
  • Rasheed Al Kotob
    • 3
  • Vincent Chan
    • 2
  • Cinnamon Bloss
    • 4
  • Rubi Linares-Orozco
    • 5
  • Michelle Takemoto
    • 4
  • Camille Nebeker
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.School for the Future of Innovation in SocietyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Nano EngineeringUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Family Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  5. 5.Office of Regulatory ComplianceUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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