University of Hertfordshire

Science review in research ethics committees: Double jeopardy?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Stephen Humphreys
  • Hilary Thomas
  • Robyn Martin
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)227-237
JournalResearch Ethics
Journal publication date1 Dec 2014
Early online date14 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


Research ethics committees ‘(RECs) members’ perceptions of their role in regard to the science of research proposals are discussed. Our study, which involved the interviewing of 20 participants from amongst the UK’s independent (Phase I) ethics committees, revealed that the members consider that it is the role of the REC to examine and approve the scientific adequacy of the research – and this notwithstanding the fact that a more competent body will already have done this and even when that other body has the legal responsibility for this function. The problematic nature of this situation, tantamount to double jeopardy, is considered: it can delay research and so add to costs whilst offering no countervailing benefits, or the double jeopardy may be just the cost society imposes, through its RECs, on researchers as the price for research on human subjects


Stephen Humphreys, Hilary Thomas and Robyn Martin, ‘Science review in ethics committees: Double jeopardy?’, Research Ethics, Vol 10(4): 227-237, first published online October 14, 2014. The version of record is available online via doi: 10.1177/1747016114552340 © The Author(s) 2014 Published by SAGE.

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