Home Forums Nodes Indigenous Health & Wellbeing General 'Secret ethics business'

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    Kathleen Clapham
    Kathleen Clapham

    In a recent paper authors Webster and Temple-Smith asks whether the very processes intended to assure ethical research in Australia might, themselves, undermine good research practice. The focus of their paper is on the ethical review requirements for multi-jurisdictional research projects (described by the authors as ‘low/negligible risk, qualitative study, at the crossroad of health services research and organisational research’) (see: Webster SM, Temple-Smith M. The red tape waltz. Where multi-centre ethical and research governance review can step on the toes of good research practice..Monash Bioeth Rev. 2013 Mar;31(1):77-98. )

    However similar sorts of concerns were raised recently in health node discussions about multi-jurisdictional Aboriginal health research and the difficulty of ‘getting through’ the multitude of ethical review committees.

    As chair of the Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee at my University, I find my self on tricky ethical ground. I frequently lecture on the importance of ethical guidelines and ethical processes in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research. I also find myself in the position of having
    to defend processes which are sometimes frustrating and incomprehensible to novice applicants.

    Indigenous research ethics are fundamental to Indigenous research methodologies. Have we taken ‘secret ethics business’ a bit too far?

    And why is it taking the NHMRC so long to respond to the review of the Values and Ethics?

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