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In the lion's den? Experiences of interaction with research ethics committees
  1. Elizabeth Fistein1,
  2. Sally Quilligan2
  1. 1General Practice Education Group, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Office of the School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elizabeth Fistein, Department of School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, GPEG, IPH, Forvie Site, Robinson Road, Cambridge CB2 0SP, UK; ecf22{at}


Research ethics review is an important process, designed to protect participants in medical research. However, it is increasingly criticised for failing to meet its aims. Here, two researchers reflect on their experiences of applying for ethical approval of observational research in clinical settings. They highlight some problems faced by reviewers and researchers and propose a two-stage ethical review process that would alert researchers to the committee's concerns and allow them to give a more considered response.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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