Rachel Douglas-Jones, IT University of Copenhagen

Rachel Douglas-Jones, IT University of Copenhagen

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 at 15:00 in the Small Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Rachel Douglas-Jones, IT University of Copenhagen

Ethical Review Goes Global: Learning the arts of a good ethical review

Abstract

Ethical review has been integrated into what counts as ‘good science’. But what constitutes a ‘good’ ethical review? And what kind of model of decision-making is it? Since the early 2000s, capacity building in ethical review has been a priority in Europe and the USA, driven by an increase in collaborative and multi-sited clinical trials producing data in a range of settings. This presentation explores the growth in research ethics committees in the Asia-Pacific region, drawing on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with a WHO-TDR funded non-governmental organisation, the Forum of Ethics Review Committees of Asia and the Pacific. The NGO, based in Bangkok, works to build capacity in ethical review, networking and training committees in ethics principles and practices. I first discuss the markers of competent review in countries with a range of different ideas about ethics and varying regulatory environments. I ask who should set the standards by which committees are assessed, and show debates over who should be responsible for assessing them. Having shown some of the factors driving the establishment of committees, I illustrate the growing motivation committees have to become ‘recognised’ or ‘accredited’ for their review practices. I conclude with a series of contrasting hopes for the future of ethical review meetings and standards.

Biography

Rachel Douglas-Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Technologies in Practice research groups at the IT University of Copenhagen, where she co-directs the Experimental Techno-Humanities and Organizational Services (ETHOS) lab. Her research is focused on ethics in research, particularly models of ethical review and ethical narratives as a mechanisms for research governance, such as integrity. She works from the disciplines of social anthropology and science and technology studies, using qualitative, ethnographic methods, especially participant observation and in-depth interviews to explore where moments of ethical deliberation arise and how decisions are negotiated in groups. Dr. Douglas-Jones has been involved in three large multi-university collaborations in the UK and USA, working on questions of ethics, value and evaluation in interdisciplinary environments involving the life-sciences, nano-sciences and IT. This research has included work with ESCROs in the USA, and Ethics Committees/IRBs across the Asian region. Her resulting publications examine the changing role of ethics review committees in evaluating proposed research, emerging questions of expertise in evaluation, and the differences between rule-based codes of ethical conduct and efforts to develop researcher/developer integrity.