Centralized and Non-Centralized Ethics Review: A Five Nation Study
Fitzgerald, Maureen H.
Phillips, Paul A.
Accountability in Research 2006 January-March; 13(1): 47-74
The research ethics review process is now an inherent part of conducting research and a topic of much discussion. On the negative side it has been presented as cumbersome, expensive, time consuming, and potentially a system that does not adequately deal with the concerns it was set up to address. One common, but often controversial, proposal to address some of these concerns has been the institutionalization of centralized systems of review. This paper uses data on the review systems in place in five countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA and the U.K.), some with and some without versions of centralized review, to explore issues related to centralization of the review process. It suggests that there are at least three types of systems (fully centralized, dual, and decentralized or multicommittee) in place; all are made up of two, interrelated components (the administrative and ethics review). We suggest that both components need to be considered in discussions about centralized review. Serious consideration of centralization of the administrative component may address many concerns. Centralization of the ethics review may provide a context that deals with other issues and may encourage reviews that more effectively focus on the ethical issues involved.
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