This article is based on an invited speech given at Massey University in August 2016 where Tolich revealed the inspiration for his 25-year sociological analysis of research ethics committees and their codes. The title of the talk “sociologically, do we need ethics committees?” began exploring the stigma ethics committee applicants experience when their qualitative research design does not meet the ethics committee’s biomedical expectations at issue. In 1992 this disjuncture provoked Tolich’s sociological imagination to engage a literature where he found his private troubles were for other sociologists’ public issues, as if these other qualitative researchers collectively experienced a similar stigma. The article reports on Tolich’s attempts to resolve power imbalances between researchers and ethics committees by creating an experimental ethics committees and resources that support the ethics of social science researchers. The second half of the article critiques the codes ethics committees’ use finding they contain little understanding of qualitative research with the potential to harm research participants. The article ends contrasting the impoverishment of New Zealand’s ethics codes with those in Australia, and especially in Canada asking why doesn’t New Zealand have an equivalent National Statement?
Tolich M (2016) A narrative account of ethics committees and their codes. New Zealand Sociology, 31(4) pp43-55.