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The ESRC's 2010 Framework for Research Ethics: fit for research purpose?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/11/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Sociological Research Online
Issue number4
Number of pages0
Pages (from-to)n/a
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The ESRC's (2010) Framework for Research Ethics extends the remit of its 2005 research ethics framework in three significant ways: the system is to be fully mandatory and it will no longer be possible to make the case that no out of the ordinary ethical issues arise; the Research Ethics Committees (RECs) set up under the ESRC's 2005 document have extended remit, including reviewing all research proposals accepted by the ESRC and other funding bodies; and funding will depend on the REC review, with its purview extending through a project's life. The 2010 document is reviewed in detail and the conclusion is drawn that it is not fit for purpose. Six wider issues raised by the FRE document are discussed: the consultation process by the ESRC was insufficient and the informed consent of the social science community was not obtained; the ethics creep involved will involve unnecessary bureaucratisation; the RECs will operate without expert discipline-specific knowledge using unethical generalist criteria; the overall effects long-term will be deleterious to the research base; the FRE document unacceptably ignores the professional associations and their research ethics guidelines; and the ESRC's system of the expert peer review of funding applications will be undermined.