J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100274
  • Research ethics
  • Paper

Is mandatory research ethics reviewing ethical?

  1. Gary Allen2
  1. 1Griffith University, School of Applied Psychology, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Research Office, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Murray Dyck, Griffith University, School of Applied Psychology, Gold Coast, Queensland 4222, Australia; m.dyck{at}
  • Accepted 10 July 2012
  • Published Online First 3 August 2012

Review boards responsible for vetting the ethical conduct of research have been criticised for their costliness, unreliability and inappropriate standards when evaluating some non-medical research, but the basic value of mandatory ethical review has not been questioned. When the standards that review boards use to evaluate research proposals are applied to review board practices, it is clear that review boards do not respect researchers or each other, lack merit and integrity, are not just and are not beneficent. The few benefits of mandatory ethical review come at a much greater, but mainly hidden, social cost. It is time that responsibility for the ethical conduct of research is clearly transferred to researchers, except possibly in that small proportion of cases where prospective research participants may be so intrinsically vulnerable that their well-being may need to be overseen.

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