The Case Against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences
Research Ethics 7 (December 2011): 120-131
14 Pages Posted: 20 May 2012
Date Written: April 19, 2011
For decades, scholars in the social sciences and humanities have questioned the appropriateness and utility of prior review of their research by human subjects' ethics committees. This essay seeks to organize thematically some of their published complaints and to serve as a brief restatement of the major critiques of ethics review. In particular, it argues that 1) ethics committees impose silly restrictions, 2) ethics review is a solution in search of a problem, 3) ethics committees lack expertise, 4) ethics committees apply inappropriate principles, 5) ethics review harms the innocent, and 6) better options exist.
Keywords: ethics review, social sciences, institutional review boards, research ethics committees, research ethics boards
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