Excerpt: The moral case for ethical oversight in relation to social research is reasonable but the politics of assessments remains largely unaddressed. The purpose as set out in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research is that participants are accorded respect and protection and that research is fostered that benefits ‘the community’. While university ethics committees are broadly made up of academics and others of good will it is the complexity of deciding how projects achieve these purposes that provokes difficulty. In my dealings with ethics committees in two Australian universities over some 20 years it has required considerable effort to ensure that appropriate oversight for projects has not been confounded by committee members confusing their own personal political positions with decisions about approving particular studies.
Trigger D (2014) Ethics and politics. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 25 (3): 386-388