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  • IRB: ETHICS & HUMAN RESEARCH

Barriers to Research on Research Ethics Review and Conflicts of Interest

Research ethics boards need to be better resourced in terms of knowledge, expertise and practical tools to help them do their very important work, which includes being willing and able to participate in ethics research.

Conflict of interest in the academic context is a subject receiving substantial attention, including in the particular situation of research ethics review of research protocols. In this article, we present the experience of a team of ethics researchers trying to study Canadian research ethics boards’ (REBs) experience with conflicts of interest in the research setting. The challenges we faced with recruitment in a context of multicenter review pointed to a serious lack of understanding on the part of REBs regarding nuances in notions of risk and vulnerability of participants, and how unavoidable conflicts of interest could be managed appropriately. More worrisome was REBs’ lack of understanding of qualitative research methodology and a tendency to apply a “clinical trial framework” to the review of qualitative research, regardless of the level of risk involved. REBs need to be better resourced in terms of knowledge, expertise and practical tools to help them do their very important work, which includes being willing and able to participate in ethics research.

Bryn William-Jones, Marie-Josée Potvin, Ghislaine Mathieu, and Elise Smith, “Barriers to Research on Research Ethics Review and Conflicts of Interest,” IRB: Ethics & Human Research 35, no. 5 (2013): 14-19.

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