Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
- ethics committees/consultation
- policy guidelines/inst. review boards/review cttes.
- public policy
- research ethics
What job should authorities give to review boards? We are grateful to Soren Holm, Rosamond Rhodes, Julian Savulescu and G Owen Schaefer for their thoughtful commentaries on our answer.1–4 Here we add to the discussion.
Let us summarise the claims for which we argued.5 Relevant authorities can task boards with review for consistency with duly established code (‘code-consistency review’ or ‘CCR’), thereby making code-consistent activities apt for approval and code-inconsistent activities apt for rejection. They can instead task boards with review for ethical acceptability (‘ethics-consistency review’ or ‘ECR’), making ethically acceptable activities apt for approval and ethically unacceptable activities apt for rejection. For every proposal a board might consider, these two different jobs establish different review bases, and their approvals and rejections also sometimes conflict. Some international and national statements require ECR, others instead require CCR, and others again seem either to require both or just to run the two together. Those responsible for these statements should make them clearer and better aligned here. For reasons of practicality, publicity and separation of powers, authorities do better to task boards with CCR and not ECR. These arguments also count against establishing any code with content that in effect collapses CCR into ECR. If our arguments withstand robust scrutiny, authorities should also remove ‘ethics’ and cognate terms from the names of these boards and their review activities and emphasise code expertise not ethics expertise in the required skill sets of boards.
Our article noted that ‘ethical considerations informed the genesis of these boards and express their aspirations’. Rhodes similarly notes: ‘the authors and endorsers of research ethics codes, declarations and regulations … (are) articulating the ethical standards for conducting human subject research’ and ‘This framework embeds the ethical parameters of human subject research into the moral missions of institutions’. Schaefer too …
Contributors AJM is the sole author for this commentary.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Collaborators Andrew Donnelly.
- Feature article
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- The job of ‘ethics committees’
- Code-consistent ethics review: defence of a hybrid account
- Judgement and the role of the metaphysics of values in medical ethics
- The structure of ethics review: expert ethics committees and the challenge of voluntary research euthanasia
- Study protocol: a survey exploring patients’ and healthcare professionals’ expectations, attitudes and ethical acceptability regarding the integration of socially assistive humanoid robots in nursing
- Ethics in a scientific approach: the importance of the biostatistician in research ethics committees
- Between universalism and relativism: a conceptual exploration of problems in formulating and applying international biomedical ethical guidelines
- Human infection challenge studies in endemic settings and/or low-income and middle-income countries: key points of ethical consensus and controversy
- Translational ethics? The theory–practice gap in medical ethics
- ‘Lines in the sand’: an Australian qualitative study of patient group practices to promote independence from pharmaceutical industry funders