Trust takes more than guidelines and review


Research ethics has developed into an extra legal regulatory system. Guidelines serve as steering documents, committees oversee and consent procedures are formal.

This is often justified with reference to past atrocities. In a recent article in Research Ethics, Linus Johnsson, Stefan Eriksson, Gert Helgesson and Mats G. Hansson call this ‘institutionalized distrust’ and claim that this approach has some limitations.

Regulatory systems can not be justified with past horrors unless the distrust itself is a necessary or efficient means to prevent future atrociousness. According to the authors, this distrust is a potential threat to researchers’ moral competence and integrity because it encourages a blinkered view of ethical issues.

Making researchers moral: Why trustworthiness requires more than ethics guidelines and review, Johnsson L, Eriksson S, Helgesson G & Hansson MG, Research Ethics 2014;10(1):29-46

By Josepine Fernow

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