Excerpt: I write as someone who for served for a decade as a member and then a Presiding Member of one of the two HRECs at UNSW. As anthropological critics of HRECs rightly say, the HREC structure was set up on the basis of a biomedical model, but I was recruited to the UNSW Committees, along with several other social scientists, with the express intent of broadening the Committees’ understanding of social science and especially ethnographic research. In my decade, and through my experience of different universities, I have seen efficient facilitative consultative Committees, and I have seen narrow-minded obstructive policing Committees. I have seen Committees which had a large degree of independence from the governance structures of their host institution, and I finally resigned my position last year because I felt my university was no longer honouring that independence. My point is that while many of the AASnet criticisms of individual HREC decisions and procedures sound justified, that is not a reflection of the HREC structure per se. It reflects how individual Committees are going about their business.
Metcalfe A (2014) Human research ethics committees. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 25 (3): 383-384