This article identifies 14 contentious issues faced by Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs). The authors argue that HREC members will respond variably to these issues based on their own fundamental values and worldview. In particular, we propose that personal interpretations of current ethics regulations and HREC members’ attitudes to consequentialism, Kantianism, and utilitarianism in some cases affect their responses to contentious research issues. We seek to promote understanding of how personal and professional back­grounds of HREC reviewers influence their approaches to value-laden issues embedded in ethics applications. Taking the form of a literature review, our con­tribution highlights the need for further exploration of how HREC members make decisions, and what factors influence the outcomes of ethics applications.


ethics, review, HREC, research, values

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