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Should local research ethics committees monitor research they have approved?
  1. Emma Pickworth
  1. University of Manchester


    The function of local research ethics committees is to consider the ethics of research proposals using human participants. After approval has been given, there is no comprehensive system in place to monitor research and ensure that recommendations are carried out. Some suggest that research ethics committees are ideally placed to fulfil this function by carrying out random monitoring of research they have reviewed. The health service guideline creating local research ethics committees is under review.1 This paper suggests that increasing the monitoring role of ethics committees in the present climate would be inappropriate. This is due to the large workload of the committees, their voluntary nature and the change a monitoring role might cause to the relationship between researcher and ethics committee, which might herald an increasing recourse to judicial review. A radical overhaul of the system would be necessary in order for ethics committees adequately to fulfil a monitoring function.

    • Research ethics committees
    • audit
    • monitoring
    • misconduct

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    • Emma Pickworth, LLB, MJur, was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, Preston when she wrote this paper. She is currently a Researcher at the Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics, University of Manchester.