Saturday, December 27, 2014

Canada Embraces Ethical Pluralism

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada have released a new version of TCPS2. Though it is not a dramatic change from the 2010 edition, it serves a reinder of how much more nimble the Canadian system is compared to the rigid U.S. regulations.

I was particularly interested in the new acknowledgement that Research Ethics Boards (REBs) do not possess a monopoly on ethical judgment:

"Activities outside the scope of research subject to REB review (see Articles 2.5 and 2.6), as defined in this Policy, may still raise ethical issues that would benefit from careful consideration by an individual or a body capable of providing some independent guidance, other than an REB. These ethics resources may be based in professional or disciplinary associations, particularly where those associations have established best practices guidelines for such activities in their discipline."

Back in 2012, I traveled to Canada to argue that "Scholarly associations know more about the ethics of particular forms of research than do national regulatory bodies," and should be more involved in articulating ethical standards and practices. Coincidence?

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