This article compares and contrasts the operational practices of ten tertiary research ethics committees in New Zealand, with an in-depth focus on five of these committees, contributing to an identified goal in the literature of rendering more visible the workings of such committees in order to promote applicant engagement. The authors expand upon a study by Tolich et al. (2015), which collected brief narratives from members of five committees and found that the ways committees are run vary quite significantly. In this article five additional narratives are considered, and all ten are compared, with particular consideration given to review processes for applications, and applicants’ levels of access to committee members and committee deliberations. We focus on the different ways that variously constrained institutions navigate the tension between ethical decision-making as regulatory activity, and researcher participation and engagement in this decision-making process. The reality and value of institutionally-specific operational practices is confirmed, and simultaneously, potential ‘best practice’ options that could be applied more broadly are explored. The article proposes questions for future research that emerge from suggestive patterns and points of contrast in the narratives.
Gremillion H, Snell D, Crosthwaite J, Finch B, Paterson J and Tavinor G (2016) What does organizational diversity in New Zealand tertiary sector research ethics committees teach us about balancing consultative and governance approaches to ethics review? New Zealand Sociology 31(4), pp4-27.