Research ethics committees



Publication Details

Thomson, C. J H.. (2012). Research ethics committees. In R. Chadwick (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (vol.3) (pp. 786-796). San Diego: Academic Press.


Human research ethics comprise principles and processes. Common principles include the requirements that research involving humans has merit and is beneficial, that researchers have integrity, that the benefits and burdens of research participation are justly shared, that risks to participants are minimized and are justified by potential benefits, and that participants are respected as people and their informed consent is given. Common processes are that research proposals are subject to prior review and are approved when designed to conform to applicable principles and their conduct is monitored to show that they continue to conform. Research ethics committees, composed of people with a variety of expertise and experience, are used to conduct these reviews and monitoring. Use of research ethics committees to conduct prior review of proposed research that involves human participants or subjects (human research) has, during approximately the past three decades, become standard international research practice. Similar functions are conducted by animal research ethics committees. Because they have a different history and specifications, they are not addressed in this article.

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