Do no harm: The failure of institutional review boards

While research projects deserve due scrutiny to ensure they do not cause harm, “the current mode of scrutinizing ethics in social science is broken,” writes Ryan Briggs of the University of Guelph for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Briggs outlines several of the high-profile, unethical experiments in medicine and psychology that triggered the creation of institutional review boards (IRBs) for human-subject research around the world. Briggs argues that since their inception, IRBs have been an “abject failure.” In particular, he notes frequent issues with overreach, bureaucracy, and a failure to demonstrate reasonable judgement and knowledge on the topics being assessed. Briggs concludes that the consequences of a broken IRB system fall on the shoulders of researchers, especially early-career researchers. Chronicle of Higher Education (Acct. Req.) Note: Archived stories may contain dead links or be missing source links.

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