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Trevor Smith, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 1999, 403 + xvii pages, £29.95/US$47.95.
Research ethics is a very exciting field at the moment. Important public debate is continuing at national and international levels, concerning the proposed revisions to the Declaration of Helsinki and the Council for the International Organisation of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) guidelines, the proposed European clinical trials directive and the recent Good Clinical Practice guidelines. There is also debate about obtaining, using and storing genetic, and tissue, samples.
This ferment has resulted in a wealth of guidelines and learned articles, but as yet there are few useful and up-to-date book-length discussions of the field. This is partly due to the increasing diversity of types of research (including research design), and the variety of the contexts of research (the hospital-based clinical trial is arguably no longer typical of medical research). However, it is also to do with what such a book is supposed to do. Recent works like Baruch Brody's Ethics of Biomedical Research (OUP, 1998) give, in effect, an …