Justification for a Research Ethics Review Committee

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In Nineteen forty seven, concern for the welfare of research participants came into sharp focus with the adoption of the Nuremberg Code. This concerns gains expression through various ethical standards that guide researchers. Over time, it appears that these standards have taken into account a greater number of areas in order to reflect changing requirements of researchers and the research enterprise. It should be noted, for instance, that while the Nuremberg Code placed emphasis on participants' physical bell-being, Gordon, Sugarman and Kass (1998) report on the introduction, in the nineteen sixties, of the Data safety and monitoring boards (DSMBs) which were established to provide ongoing monitoring of the data collected over the course of a investigation. The evolution of research ethics continued with the creation of bodies such as the Research Governance Framework (Department of Health 2001) which reflected a more comprehensive approach to research ethics to include the emotional well being of the persons being researched (Mills, Heath, Crow & Charles, 2005). More recent ethical perspectives intimate that researchers should be concerned, as well, with the political advancement of the research participant. Minklen (2004, 684), for instance, described Community based participatory research (CBPR) as underscoring the ethical principles of self determination, liberty and equity and Dougherty and Joshua (2006, 298) counseled, "Members of the feminist ethical community must be willing to confront practices that oppress women or marginalized groups."

Cannella and Lincoln (2007, 317) opined that, "Attention should be given to the contemporary legislative, policy, and enforcement environment that would impose particular behaviors a priori on individual researchers." Because of the increased focus on research ethics most institutions which carry out, or sponsor, research require that a committee should examine proposed research in order to ensure that researchers will adhere to accepted ethical standards (see for example, Tinker and Coombar 2004; Hammack 1997). For the purpose of simplicity I will, in the balance of this paper, refer to such a committee as a Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC).

Speaking of the importance of research to the development of a small island State such as Saint Lucia Crossly (2008,) advised, "If the advancement of educational research in small states is to be more substantial, effective and realistically grounded, then increased financial, intellectual and material support for such work is urgently required, and greater efforts need to be given to the strengthening of local research capacity". The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) is the premiere tertiary level institution in Saint Lucia and in keeping with that advice is expected to undertake research activities. At the SALCC, students can read for the Bachelor's Degree in Education (B. Ed.) which is awarded by the University of the West Indies. These students are required to submit a thesis which is generally a report on research is done using students, teachers and or principals from various schools around the island. In addition, the College established a centre for research which was meant to be the principal research agency at the College. Notwithstanding these two major research activities that both have the potential to use human participants, the College has not established a Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) that will be responsible for promoting, among researchers who work under the College's auspices, the recognition of and adherence to desired ethical standards.

The absence of a Research Ethics Review Committee at the College is particularly disconcerting in light of the absence of established professional bodies in the country. It is these bodies that Hammersley (2009) has credited for ensuring that few ethical problems arise through research done by social scientist in Great Britain. Further, it as result of membership in such societies that researchers are able to "interpret [ethical standards] in ways that fit the needs of the specific research they are undertaking and their own orientation to research ethics"( Mills, Heath Crow and Charles 2005, n.p).  In this essay, I will argue that it is critical that SALCC establishes a committee that will monitor research activities which are carried out at the College to ensure that researchers consistently follow required guidelines. I do not argue that those guidelines will be sufficient to ensure that ethical research is carried out; instead I urge that there are necessary.

In the first part of the essay, I will discuss how two activities related to research conducted at the College could probably be improved if there was, established at the College, a Committee that would review the activities to determine the extent to which they meet established research ethics standards. In the second section of the paper, I will use the lyrics from the song 'Neurosis of the Rich' to discuss some salient aspects of research in the region. The major thrust of this discussion is that regional research could be greatly improved if Research Ethics Review Committees (RERC) were established because such committees can provide researchers with critical support when they investigate problems that are more likely to afflict the people of the region.

Selecting participants, making-risk benefit assessments and obtaining informed consent has been the role of traditional Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC). These roles, according to Tisdale (2004), have enabled researchers to better design, implement and represent studies with vulnerable people. In the concluding section of the essay, I make a case for extending the role of the RERC to include considering ethical issues that are associated with what Tisdale (2004) calls a posteriori vulnerabilities. I will achieve primarily by critiquing an essay by Hammersley (2009).

Justification for a Research Ethics Review Committee

In partial fulfillment for the Bachelor of Education students must present a thesis. I examined the thesis submitted by twenty-two students who completed the programme in May 2009. Each of these thesis were reports on investigations that involved human subjects - fifteen involved teachers, three involved principals and twelve involved students (the figures add up to more than 22 because six of the studies involved teachers and students and 2 studies involved principals and students). Considering the large number of research projects conducted at the College which involve human participants it appears prudent to take specific steps to ensure that the interest of these persons is protected.

Hammack (2005, 254) provides some specific instances that students may be disadvantaged because they participate in research to include: a) It is not easy to describe the research methodologies in a manner that potential participants and their parents can understand; b) The service to students may be jeopardized by needs determined by the research; c) It may be difficult to maintain the distinction between the duties as teacher and those as researcher; d) It may be problematic to give the same level of service to students who select not to participate in the research project; and e)It is easy for persons not directly involved in the research project perceive that students were coerced into participating.

An additional source of danger for the students come about when students are required to participate in research that involves the investigation into the effectiveness of teaching a concept using a new approach. In such cases it is typical for approximately half of the students in the class to be placed in the "experimental" group and the other students from the class are placed in the control group. The "experimental" group is taught using the new approach while the control group is taught using the usual method. The difficulty with this situation is that the experimental method may require students to have certain skills and dispositions that are not typical for students in that class. One possible result of this requirement is that students in the experimental group must extend a greater effort, when compared to students in the control group, to learn the concept. In addition, students in the "experimental" group may acquire a perspective of the concept that is not in sync with the work done in the regular curriculum. The overall effect of these factors is that students in the "experimental" group may be disadvantages, relative to the rest of the class. Moreover, students are in a class which participates in a research project may also be disadvantaged because the entire class has to use time for the research project; time that would otherwise be used for the regular curriculum work. I contend that a Research Ethics Review Committee would be in a better position to make decisions related to the beneficence of such research projects and to determine whether students should be asked to endure the potential harms described here.

The British Sociological Association, as quoted by Heath, Charles, Crow and Wiles (2004, n.p.) refer to informed consent as, "the condition in which participants understand and agree to their participation without any duress, prior to the research getting underway". In addition, the Association holds the position that it is researchers' responsibility to take the steps necessary to ensure that all participants in the research understand the process in which they are engaged, including why their participation is necessary, how it will be used and how and to whom it will be reported. It has been suggested that probably the most important way of protecting research subjects is to provide them with the opportunity to give informed consent (Thomasma, 2000; David, Edward & Allred, 2001; Wiles, Crow, Charles and Heath, 2007).

With respect to the twenty-two reports that I examined, in every study each research participant (and/or the parent when the participant was under eighteen years old) was asked to sign a document indicating a willingness to participate in the study. It is worth emphasizing that asking potential research participant to signal their willingness to participate in a study is not the same as giving them the opportunity to grant informed consent. Nonetheless, that in each report prospective research participants were asked to sign to indicate their willing to participate in the study indicate, I believe, awareness by the University of the West Indies of the need to maintain ethical standards. I will now examine to obtain consent the specific approach used by the students in the B.Ed. programme.

There were at least two factors that decrease the possibility that the researchers were able to obtain informed consent from the participants. One, the documents potential participants were required to sign did not provide any of the critical information that would help them understand the benefits or adverse effects that may result from participation in the study. Indeed, it is very likely that the researchers were not aware of the possible harm that faced the participant. Two, in most of the cases, potential participants were required to sign a letter without seeing the researcher or another person who was sufficiently familiar with the research project. This meant that they were not given the opportunity to ask the researcher (or a suitable substitute) questions concerning the research. Will, Heath, Crow and Charles (2005) make it clear that participants must be informed of the all characteristics of the research in order before they can give "informed consent" to participate in that research project (For additional discussion on what has been termed 'Gillick competence' see David, Edward and Allred 2001, 349).

In the case of the research involving students carried out by the person reading for the B. Ed., I noted earlier that obtaining informed consent would be particularly problematic from students who are expected to be the research participant. Such difficulties are compounded because these students are not likely to understand the benefits of the research. Moreover, they are likely to be positioned where: a) they are an integral part of a class and when members of the entire class are expected to participate in the research project it is difficult, because of peer pressure inter alia, for an individual to opt out of the project; b) the class teacher is likely to be the one who ask the students for the cooperation and they are not likely to deny the teacher; and e) they (those below the age of fifteen) may be considered "captive" because they are required by law to attend school (for a discussion on the issues related to students' competence to give consent see Hammack 1997, 253). With respect to the last issues raised, it should be noted that the students are subject to the same vulnerabilities and thus entitled to the same protection that is given to persons who are "institutionalized" in, for example, prisons or mental institutions. Zion, Gillam and Loff (2000, 615), for example, argued that any population or group within a society must be considered vulnerable, and therefore entitled to special ethical consideration and rigorous ethical accountability, if they lack basic rights and freedoms that form an essential part of choosing the basic course of their life.

Miller and Wertheimer (2007) described "soft paternalism" as an intervention which restricts an individual's freedom on the basis that the person does not have the capacity to make the required decisions. On the assumption that students are not sufficiently knowledgeable to determine whether they should or should not participate in research. One of the expected functions of the Research Ethics Review Committee will exercise "soft paternalism" to protect students who will participate in research participants. Specifically, such a committee at the College would take steps to decrease instances in which students may agree to participate in research projects when they do not really wish to do so.

Figure 1: Image of Poster obtained on 17th December 2009 from Ward 4, Victoria Hospital, Saint Lucia.

Poster - truncated - resized.jpg

The above is an image of the substantive part of an advertisement that was posted around several wards at the Victoria Hospital in Saint Lucia. In order preserve anonymity, the photograph and name of the investigator as well as the name of the institution under whose auspices the research is being carried out has been cropped from the original image. In this section of the essay, I argue that the poster would probably contain more appropriate information if a Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) from the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) had an opportunity to appraise the poster before it was made public. In particular, such a committee would likely examine: The use of the College's logo; the promises made in the poster; the clarity of the information provided in the poster; and the possible dilemma involving the use of coercion vis-à-vis giving potential participant all available information.

Records from the College's Standing Committee's do not show that SALCC has sanctioned the associated research project yet the College's logo may be discerned at the top-left corner of the poster. Indeed, the positioning of the logo may convey the impression that the project is the "Sir Arthur Lewis Community College Nursing Study". Persons who get that impression are likely to be influenced to participate in the study because of that impression. Because of that possibility, I will aver that if there were an RECR at the College, it would have been inappropriate for a researcher to affix the College's logo to an advertisement of this kind without first obtaining the permission of the that RERC (I probably need some support for that statement).

Before granting such permission, the RERC would very likely establish that potential participants: a) were given the opportunity to grant informed consent; b) who were particularly vulnerable were protected and that such persons were not inadvertently coerced into participating in the research study. With respect to the two concerns and based on the information on the poster, I will provide evidence that a RERC would likely provide ways which would improve the information provided on the poster.

Earlier in this essay I cited, among others, David and Allred, (2001) to show that it is generally agreed that potential participants must be reasonably informed before they are asked or allowed to participate in a research study. In the poster above, the claim is made that registered nurses' participation in the study will, "inform interventions to strengthen the nursing services and improve the work environment in [their] institutions." I think that with respect to the benefits proclaimed on the poster an RERC would be concerned with:

The likelihood that the research findings will influence i) the creation and implementation of interventions; and

The potential for the researcher to make a distinct and significant link between the findings of the study and the results touted in the poster.

Essentially, the benefits promised on the poster are premised on the assumption that research findings have a significant impact on policy. Mortimore (2001, 16) made the point that researchers are not likely to have significant influence on policy makers because people with power, "appear to resent the authority that comes from a systematic investigation; the more so if the research findings contradict received wisdom or challenge policy." Others share Mortimore's skepticism. For example, Lincoln (2007, 319) warned, "Global hypercapitalism is infused with a form of patriarchy that would control the conceptualization of research and, therefore, position itself to discredit research when its practices challenge privatization, profiteering, or corporatization" (see as well Sheba 2007). If it is accepted that that there is little likelihood that the research study under review will modify policy (and we have no evidence to the contrary) then we will also conclude that it is not likely an RERC would accept the promised benefit (improvement to the work environment) as justification for registered nurses to participate in the study. In which case, an RERC can justifiable request that the promise made on the poster be modified.

The is some agreement that persons may justifiably participate in research when there is a) little or no likelihood of danger to these persons and b) there is convincing likelihood that the investigation will contribute to a better understanding of the phenomenon under investigation (King and Churchill, 2000) . To my mind, in light of the diminished influence that the findings of the study is likely to have on policies that affect intervention in the nursing service, it would have been more realistic to inform potential participants that the research will contribute to a deeper understanding of the issues associated with the conditions in the nursing sector. One major benefit of this approach is that it does not unduly and perhaps unjustifiably raise participants' hopes. In such cases, an RERC would be expected to serve as a "gatekeeper" and to advise potential participants whether they should participate in the study because they (the potential research participants) may not have a sufficiently sound understanding of the issues involved in the claims the researcher made (Wiles, Crow, Charles and Heath, 2007).

The investigation referenced in the poster is titled, "Predicators of turnover intentions of Hospital-based Registered Nurses in the Eastern Caribbean"; without additional information it is difficult to know what that entails. An important principle which guides all requests for informed consent is that the potential participant must be presented with information in a manner which they easily understand. It is likely, therefore, that an RERC would require that the purpose of the study should be presented using language that potential participants would more easily understand.

Hammack (1997, 252) expressed concern that educational researchers may exploit, for personal gain, institutional situations and research populations. As discussed earlier, a section of the actual poster does not appear in the graphic presented in Fig 1. The section cropped contained the researcher's name, photograph and qualifications (academic and professional). The researcher has lectured in the Health Sciences Department at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. It is therefore very likely that the researcher taught the registered nurses who work at the Victoria Hospital. This situation probably sets up an ethical dilemma. On one hand one may argue that former students are likely to feel guilty if they do not support a person who has helped them achieve their current qualified status. In which case the admonition offered by Hammack (1997) must be taken into consideration. On the other hand, it may be argued that if these former students are not aware who is the investigator they would not be fully informed. After all, some potential participants may not volunteer if they know the researcher's identity thus to conceal the researcher's identity may be deemed surreptitious. In this circumstance, it is relatively easy to accept that the RERC would have the necessary expertise to offer advice on ways to deal with that dilemma.

En passant, it should be noted that the investigator is carrying out the investigation under the auspices of another institution, an institution which is headquartered in the Unites States of America (the name of that institution was cropped). Crossley and Holmes (2001, 396) reminded

+ that there are benefits to be derived when institutions from small states work in tandem with institutions from larger countries on research projects. They nevertheless caution that, "the concept of more 'genuine' research partnerships, have profound theoretical, methodological and organizational implications that suggest the need for a broader conception of 'research', and of the research process itself". A RERC should be standing committee of the College, thus some of its members will be relatively stable and should, over time, accumulate the knowledge required to better understand the implications that concern Crossley and Holmes (2001). I believe this opportunity to develop that institutional knowledge and the opportunity which this development can create for the pursuit of apt research projects represents a significant reason for establishing a RERC at the College.

In this section I have considered how a Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College could improve activities associated with two research projects by persons who are attached to the College. That could be realized by a) ensuring that informed consent is properly obtained from participants in studies submitted in partial fulfillment for a B. Ed. Degree; and b) improving the information contained in a flyer which included the College's logo. In the next section, I will discuss some of the research implications of the lyrics to the the song "Neurosis of the Rich". The song was performed by the Might Sparrow (Sparrow).

Research Ethics depicted through calypso

The Mighty Sparrow in his calypso 'Neurosis of the rich' provides a poetic description of the social research that has been conducted in the Caribbean region (a copy of the lyrics will be found in Appendix A). In this section of the essay, I will argue that the lyrics of that calypso reveal that research in the region is likely to reflect many of the ethical fears described in the literature and that many of these concerns would be decreased if the typical Research ethics Committee (RERC) was a regular component of regional research.

Earlier, I identified autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice as four major ethical principles that should guide the conduct of research. Sparrow's song appears to place emphasis on two of these principles - beneficence and justice. Recall the beneficence is concerned with the extent to which participants, or groups to which the participants belong, will be better off as a result of the research which is undertaken. Recall as well that one implication of justice as an ethical principle is that persons who will benefit from the research should be the ones who are research participants. In that regard, I believe Sparrow is absolutely correct when he states that rich people are jealous because of the attention poor people receive from researchers. I will explain.

Sparrow is particularly clear with respect to two issues: a) poor people are the focus of the bulk of research that occurs in the regions; and b) rich people experience a myriad of problems. A lot of concern has been expressed regarding the use of vulnerable people, the poor in particular, as research participant in investigation meant to obtain treatments for ailments even when they (the poor) are unable to benefit significantly from these treatments (Support for this assertion is needed).

We note, however, that the lyrics do not depict a situation where poorer segment of the population experience many of the tribulations that ravage the rich. One immediate consequence is that poor people cannot be used as surrogate research participants to find solutions that would be of greater benefit to the rich. Instead researchers (academics, educators and religious advisors) occupy their time with investigations or the sexual fantasies, education and ethnic composition of the poor. In a curious, if inadvertent, way the research Sparrow describes is on the poor and for the benefit of the poor - harmony of beneficence and justice- It is little wonder that the rich people are jealous. One question that arises is the extent to which the save the poor projects have been successful. Providing an authoritative response to that question is beyond the scope of this essay. However there appears to be some agreement that there is a general increase in the average standard of living in the region. If that were the case then there would be even more reason for the rich to be jealous.

The situation described in the previous paragraph should not blind us to the glaring reality that most of the research that occurs in the region serves as keys to allow access to academic qualifications and that little benefit to those research participants. In such cases the area of research tends to be more theoretical and would seek to better understand social constructs (for example research on ethnic composition). In such cases it is unethical for the rich to be under represented in such research and the poor have nothing for which they should be grateful. Indeed in such situations it becomes critical for established RERC's to ensure that they (the poor) are not exploited.

Notwithstanding that the poor has probably benefited from research activities in the region, I hold the view that it is inappropriate that a proportional share of the region's research is not directed towards matters that concern the rich. In particular, some of the areas (sexual fantasies for example) that are researched among the poor should have been investigated among the rich as well. It may be that the reluctance to investigate the powerful (Hammerley, 2009) has contributed to this dearth of research on the social afflictions of the well-to-do. I contend that this situation is unacceptable and is unethical to the extent that a subgroup in the society is unable to benefit from the research activities of the community.

Additional focus for the Research Ethics Review Committee

Traditionally, the activities of the Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) have been focused on issues that are associated with what Tinsdale (2004) called "a-priori vulnerabilities". Generally, these issues can be discerned before filed work begins. In these cases, an ethics review board can make recommendations to ameliorate the effects of these vulnerabilities before field work begins (Tinker and Coombar 2004, 6). Effectively, by limiting its attention to a priori vulnerabilities, the RERC is not likely to deal with matters of ethical significance that arise after the researcher begins gathering data from the informants. This timing, one assumes, is based on the premise that important ethical matters will not arise after the researcher begins to collect data.

The premise that the interfacing between the researcher and informant will be inert is based on positivistic tenet that the research must be objective. What should be note that although Howe (1985, 10) argued that the positivistic tenets are untenable it is still possible for positivism to influence the nature of research because many of the tenets of positivism are embedded in academia that they are often invisible to researchers (Kincheleo and Tobin, 2009). Michael (2002, 4), for example, tacitly endorses the tenets of positivism when he argues that objectivity "protects research from personal bias of researchers by allowing for replication and generally producing the same or similar results".

Once it is agreed that the regular ambit of the Research Ethics Committee (RERC) must change then it must be conceded that the Committee, as currently conceptualized, must be subject some criticism. Hammersley (2009) provides such criticism. He averred that such committees incapable of making sound ethical decision about particular research projects and therefore should not have regulatory responsibility. Hammersley, (2009, 122) takes the position that the RERC can be given the responsibility to: a) offer advice; b) provide a forum in which ethical principles can be discussed; and c) invite discussion about problem cases. In this section of the paper, I argue that with respect to the RERC that I propose for Sir Arthur Lewis community College Hammersley's position is untenable. Through this discussion of Hammersley's (2009) position I will also describe characteristics of the RERC which will enable the Committee to better deal with some of the a-posteriori vulnerabilities that concern Tinsdale (2004).

One reason Hammersley (2009) provides for his position is that Ethics Review Committees should not be responsible for the ethical regulation of research is that researchers in the United Kingdom currently meet high ethical standards because they (the researchers) adhere to the code of ethics proposed by respected professional bodies. There are no such bodies in Saint Lucia thus researchers in Saint Lucia are not likely to be guided by such codes. Notwithstanding, I find the prima facie case that Hammersley (2009) offers to be problematic.

Hammersley (2009, 212) made the point that there are good reason to believe that ethics committees are incapable of making sound ethical decisions about particular research projects because member of these committees can acquire expertise on ethical matters only on the basis of the knowledge and understanding build up collectively by researchers. One can reasonably assume that it is because of researchers' role in building that knowledge and understanding that Hammersley advocates for them to make ethical decisions vis-à-vis their research projects. Surely, it must be dangerously naive to expect researchers who have been known to be Machiavellian (Hammersley 2009, 214) to consistently make decisions that are not detrimental to the research participants. It seems to me that a useful, just method is to allow Ethical Review Committees to serve as the jury that will balance the researchers' responsibilities against the participants' rights.

Hammersley (2009, 212) argued, "The regulation of social research by ethics committees implies that they have access to ethical expertise from some source." In addition, he opines that members of an Ethics Review Committee may utilize different philosophical approaches when dealing with ethical matters and that those differences "undercut any claim the ethics committees could make to expertise" Hammersley (2009, 213). This position does not seem to be consistent with the judicial systems that regulate the activities the citizens of most countries in the Commonwealth as well as those in the United States of America. For instance, in the United States of America, the final appellate court is comprised of persons who hold different philosophical positions on most issues on which they pass judgment. Indeed, it is well known that judges appointed to the Supreme Court will generally be either liberal or conservative and that their philosophical and political preferences are consistently reflected in the positions they take on matters that come before the Court. These differences in philosophical perspectives among the Supreme Court judges do not invalidate the Courts authority to regulate the lower courts. I believe, that far from being a hindrance the decisions of Ethics Committee are more likely to be accepted by all concerned when it reflects the philosophical diversity within the research community.

One way of increasing the likelihood that a diversity of views will be taken into account in the Committee's deliberation is to invite ad hoc members to be part of the Committee. This mechanism allows the Committee to have immediate access to expertise without becoming ungainly large. What's more, ad hoc members need not be only experienced, knowledgeable researchers but may be lay member of the community. I think one useful by-product of inviting lay members to serve on the Ethical Committee is the opportunity to access the national, regional and international projects that may impinge on the research project under review (Must add a supporting quote for this).

Hammersely (2009, ) made the point that the "harm" to researchers which may be caused by Ethic Review Committees is much greater than any harm researcher will inflict on research participants. One can surmise that he would conclude that this violates the ethical principle of beneficence. A corollary to the beneficence principle is that research becomes more likely to be ethical when all effort is made to decrease harm that may occur. To that end, and in order to decrease Hammersley's concerns on that matter, I am proposing that a small sub-committee of the RERC should meet in a timely manner to review all request for ethical review and to give routine approval to projects that have a very low likelihood of mushrooming into ethical problems. The RERC would have to formulate guidelines to distinguish between research projects which will go to the full committee.

It will be necessary, as well, for the RERC to formulate criteria that will help determine which research projects will be more likely to be affected by a posteriori vulnerabilities. It is envisaged that such projects will require the RERC to appoint a sub-committee that will continue to monitor and to give guidance to the research team. It should be noted, nonetheless, that investigations into particular areas are likely to be affected by a posteriori vulnerabilities and will require special attention. That group includes research: a) into the feasibility of implementing a program or a policy that is opposed by some sector of the society; b) into a behavior that is deemed to be deviant; c) meant to empower a marginalized group.

Hammersley took the unusual, I think, position of advocating that researchers who disagree with the regulatory role of the Ethics Review Committee should be contemplating not cooperating with these committees. I believe that if Hammersley were to receive the committees as stepping stones rather than perceive them as stumbling blocks other researchers would be less likely to engage in what Hammersley (2009) himself euphemistically calls "strategic." Review Committees should be consistently fair and that has the potential to encourage researchers to participate in the committee's deliberations making it is more likely for that committee to provide another opportunity for peer review.


In this essay, I proposed that because personnel from the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College undertake research it would be necessary to establish a Research Ethics Review Committee at the College. By way of providing evidence for establishing the RERC I showed how the interest of research participant would have likely improved if that body already existed at the College. Finally, I offered a number of suggestions that would mitigate the concerns a) Hammersley (2009) raised regarding the authority of the Ethics Committee to regulate research; and b) which troubled Tinsdale (2004) regarding the need for Ethics research Committee to take into account ethical issues that arise out of a-posteriori vulnerabilities.


It was particularly difficult to critic a colleague who is engaged in research. Thus I had to think very carefully about the approach I would use to discuss the poster which was retrieved from the Victoria Hospital. In a real sense I was faced with an ethical dilemma of sort.

There were at least two circumstances which reasoned that I should not withhold the researcher's identity. First, the poster was in the public domain thus it is an easy matter for anyone who reads this essay to find out who was the researcher. In any event I have not discussed this matter with the researcher and offered no level of confidentiality. Second, I am not engaged in a research project, thus the usual principles that guide research would not hold. For example, a news reporter would have no obligation to withhold the researcher's identity. Third, this essay will be presented to the College's Academic Board and will serve as a "policy memo" for the establishment of an Ethics Review Committee at the College. Under the circumstances, including the researcher's name will not make a difference because members of the Board will readily identify the researcher.

My final decision was guided by my understanding that the researcher had engaged in an activity that I consider unethical and that it would be best to make it more difficult for person outside of the College Community who read this essay to identify the researcher.


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