What’s Human Rights Got to Do with It? On the Proposed Changes to SSHRC Ethics Research Policy

Journal of Academic Ethics 2 (3):249-262 (2004)
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Abstract

Whats human rights got to do with it? That is, whats human rights got to do with the June 2004 report of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Ethics Special Working Committee to the Inter-Agency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics. The disturbing answer is not enough. Certain key recommendations of the working committee, it is suggested, would unacceptably weaken the researchers legal and moral accountability to research participants. Those particular recommendations rely on misguided references to academic freedom and the nature of the non-medical research context. In fact, universal human rights, and the legal instruments in which they are embodied ought to inform the research endeavor at every stage; from problem selection to analysis and conclusions. This will lead us closer to shared truths rather than simply to the academic elites vision of truth. Without sufficient regard for the human rights of research participants academic freedom itself is not possible.

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