In defence of governance: ethics review and social research
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Recently we conducted a study that identified an “ethics ecosystem” that, as a form of research governance, ensures that common ethical principles are operationalised by a number of actors within this ecosystem. This ethics ecosystem includes researchers, research ethics committee members, research institutions, publishing houses and Editors, and external Associations [1, 2].
In their paper ‘In defence of governance: ethics review and social research’, Sheehan et al  attempt to find a strong ethical answer for the need for such levels of ethical governance at the ethical review level for the social sciences. In doing this, the authors respond to a number of hypothetical claims against the need for such a review governance system. They then create their case that society has a stake in social research because of its link to enquiry, and in turn, human flourishing. They explain that because individual members of society will reasonably disagree about this ‘stake’, i.e., what specific research enquiry should proceed through ethical review to further human flourishing, this needs to be settled via a ‘fair process’ governance (i.e., a committee style) model.
While this paper is certainly a comprehensive and interesting analysis highlighting many of the discussions in this area, the authors fail to sufficiently link their final argument to ‘enquiry’.
We believe we can provide a better defense for an ethical review framework. This can be achieved by...Show More