File(s) under permanent embargo

Resisting ethics over-regulation in research into sexuality and relationships education: insights from an Australian study

journal contribution
posted on 2020-11-01, 00:00 authored by B Johnson, Lyn HarrisonLyn Harrison, Debbie OllisDebbie Ollis
Complaints by educational researchers about problems with the human research ethics review process are not new. In this paper, we add to the growing body of literature critiquing contemporary ethics review processes. We outline the nature and extent of scrutiny our sexuality and relationships research project was subjected to during a drawn-out and acrimonious process of over-regulation by several ethics review panels. We provide concrete details of two ‘ethics exchanges’ that show how compromised the review process can become when ethics review ‘guidelines’ are interpreted, promoted and applied as universalised and invariant principles of ethical practice. We argue that these problems arise because ethics review boards (1) over-emphasise the vulnerability of young research participants and make exaggerated assessments of risk, (2) evaluate all research from a biomedical perspective that discounts research approaches that are based on different epistemologies, and (3) use bureaucratic and adversarial ways to resolve contested research ethics issues. The paper concludes with a call for ethics review boards to recognise and accept methodological diversity and plurality, and to acknowledge the inevitability and desirability of making in situ ethical decisions while using participatory methods in educational research.

History

Journal

Australian Educational Researcher

Volume

47

Pagination

741 - 757

Publisher

Springer

Location

Dordrecht, The Netherlands

ISSN

0311-6999

eISSN

2210-5328

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal