Research Ethics 6 (3):86-90 (2010)

Sean Jennings
University of Birmingham
Assuming that the purpose of research ethics review is to support the ethical conduct and dissemination of good quality research, a question can be raised concerning whether ethics review of research really improves the practice of researchers. Specifically, we might distinguish the activities that go on as part of the review process from those activities that constitute the data collection phase of the research, and ask under what conditions the former have a positive impact on the latter. Two different models of ethics review can be distinguished, term them ‘compliance’ and ‘reflexivity’-based reviews. Compliance-based models of review require researchers to show how they are complying with a given set of rules or protocols for research. Reflexivity-based models require researchers to articulate the ethical issues involved in their research and to explain and justify the way in which they plan to manage them. It is suggested here that there is reason to think that reflexivity-based models of ethics review are more likely to have a positive effect on the practice of social science research than compliance-based reviews.
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DOI 10.1177/174701611000600304
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