Student Projects in Medicine: A Lesson in Science and Ethics
Edwards, Sarah J.L.
Accountability in Research 2009 September-December; 16(5-6): 285-306
Regulation of biomedical research is the subject of considerable debate in the bioethics and health policy worlds. The ethics and governance of medical student projects is becoming an increasingly important topic in its own right, especially in the U.K., where there are periodic calls to change it. My main claim is that there seems to be no good reason for treating student projects differently from projects led by qualified and more experienced scientists and hence no good grounds for changing the current system of ethics review. I first suggest that the educational objectives cannot be met without laying down standards of good science, whatever they may be. Weak science is unnecessary for educational purposes, and it is, in any case, unlikely to produce good researchers in the future. Furthermore, it is curious to want to change the system of ethics review specifically for students when it is the science that is at stake, and when the science now falls largely outside the ethics remit. I further show that ethics review is nevertheless important since students carry a new potential conflict of interests that warrants independent oversight which supervisory support does not offer. This potential conflict may become more morally troublesome the greater the risks to the subjects of the research, and students may impose greater risks on their subjects (relative to professional researchers) by virtue of being inexperienced, whatever the nature of the project. Pragmatic concerns may finally be allayed by organizing the current system more efficiently at critical times of the university calendar.
Bioethics; Biomedical Research; Ethics; Health; Medicine; Nature; Regulation; Research; Researchers; Review; Science; Standards; Students; Education for Health Care Professionals; Human Experimentation Policy Guidelines / Institutional Review Boards; Social Control of Human Experimentation; Scientific Research Ethics;
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