Contextualising merit and integrity within human research
The first consideration of any Australian Human Research Ethics Committee should be to satisfy itself that the project before them is worth undertaking. If the project does not add to the body of knowledge, if it does not improve social welfare or individual wellbeing then the use of human participants, their tissue or their data must be questioned. Sometimes, however, committees are criticised for appearing to adopt the role of scientific review committees. The intent of this paper is to provide researchers with an understanding of the ethical importance of demonstrating the merit of their research project and to help them develop protocols that show ethics committees that adequate attention has been paid to this central tenet in dealing ethically with human research participants. Any person proposing human research must be prepared to show that it is worthwhile. This paper will clarify the relationship between research merit and integrity, research ethics and the responsibilities of human research ethics committees.