Monash Bioethics Review 22 (3):50-65 (2003)

The Australian Health Ethics Committee’s National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans expanded the health and medical focus of preceding statements by including all disciplines of research. The Statement purports to promote a uniformly high ethical standard for this expanded range of research, and is endorsed by, inter alia, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Academy of Science, and the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.High ethical standards should apply to all research involving humans. However, uniformity in the review processes of disparate research endeavours is not a necessary condition for uniformly high ethical standards. Bringing the ethical review of all research under a model which has developed within the context of health and medical research ethics for over thirty years may be inappropriate and at times incoherent. The language, methods, nature and products of research in areas such as the Humanities are often very different from those of health, medical and other sciences.The Behavioural and Social Sciences Ethics Review Committee at The University of Queensland had, since the mid-1980s, considered that the guidelines of the time did, in fact, cover all aspects of human experimentation. We describe the ways in which this position was implemented, how issues raised by the new wording in the National Statement have been recently managed by UQ’s research ethics committees, and point to outstanding questions.
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DOI 10.1007/bf03351397
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