Beyond criticism of ethics review boards: strategies for engaging research communities and enhancing ethical review processes

Hickey, Andrew ORCID: and Davis, Samantha and Farmer, Will and Dawidowicz, Julianna and Moloney, Clint ORCID: and Lamont-Mills, Andrea ORCID: and Carniel, Jess ORCID: and Pillay, Yosheen and Akenson, David ORCID: and Bromdal, Annette ORCID: and Gehrmann, Richard ORCID: and Mills, Dean and Kolbe-Alexander, Tracy ORCID: and Machin, Tanya ORCID: and Reich, Suzanne ORCID: and Southey, Kim ORCID: and Crowley-Cyr, Lynda ORCID: and Watanabe, Taiji and Davenport, Josh and King, Helena and Williams, Lucy and Timmins, Kurt and Thompson, Michael and Eacersall, Douglas ORCID: and Maxwell, Jacinta ORCID: (2021) Beyond criticism of ethics review boards: strategies for engaging research communities and enhancing ethical review processes. Journal of Academic Ethics. ISSN 1570-1727

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A growing body of literature critical of ethics review boards has drawn attention to the processes used to determine the ethical merit of research. Citing criticism on the bureaucratic nature of ethics review processes, this literature provides a useful provocation for (re)considering how the ethics review might be enacted. Much of this criticism focuses on how ethics review boards deliberate, with particular attention given to the lack of transparency and opportunities for researcher recourse that characterise ethics review processes. Centered specifically on the conduct of ethics review boards convened within university settings, this paper draws on these inherent criticisms to consider the ways that ethics review boards might enact more communicative and deliberative practices. Outlining a set of principles against which ethics review boards might establish strategies for engaging with researchers and research communities, this paper draws attention to how Deliberative communication, Engagement with researchers and the Distribution of responsibility for the ethics review might be enacted in the day-to-day practice of the university human ethics review board. This paper develops these themes via a conceptual lens derived from Habermas’ (The theory of communicative action. Volume 1: Reason and the rationalization of society, 1984) articulation of ‘communicative action’ and Fraser’s (Social Text, 25(26), 56–80, 1990) consideration of ‘strong publics’ to cast consideration of the role that human ethics review boards might play in supporting university research cultures. Deliberative communication, Engagement with researchers and the Distribution of responsibility provide useful conceptual prompts for considering how ethics review boards might undertake their work.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published online: 15 July 2021. Accepted version embargoed until 1 August 2022 (12 months), in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2021 05:56
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2022 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: research ethics; ethical review; deliberative communication; communicative action; strong public
Fields of Research (2008): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2201 Applied Ethics > 220199 Applied Ethics not elsewhere classified
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200204 Cultural Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5001 Applied ethics > 500199 Applied ethics not elsewhere classified
48 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 4804 Law in context > 480499 Law in context not elsewhere classified
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470207 Cultural theory
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1602 Schools and learning environments > 160299 Schools and learning environments not elsewhere classified
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280109 Expanding knowledge in education
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