Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Case against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences

Research Ethics has published my article, "The Case against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences." The article appeared in print in December 2011, but it has only recently appeared online.

[Zachary M. Schrag, "The Case against Ethics Review in the Social Sciences," Research Ethics 7 (December 2011): 120-131, doi:10.1177/174701611100700402]

(As of 17 May 2012, the DOI is working, but one can find the article at

The article gathers many of the arguments made in the first five years of this blog.

As permitted by the Sage policy, I have posted an April 2011, pre-review draft at I hope that readers with access to the published version will consult that instead.

Here is the abstract:

For decades, scholars in the social sciences and humanities have questioned the appropriateness and utility of prior review of their research by human subjects' ethics committees. This essay seeks to organize thematically some of their published complaints and to serve as a brief restatement of the major critiques of ethics review. In particular, it argues that 1) ethics committees impose silly restrictions, 2) ethics review is a solution in search of a problem, 3) ethics committees lack expertise, 4) ethics committees apply inappropriate principles, 5) ethics review harms the innocent, and 6) better options exist.

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