FSD Bulletin

Issue 24 (2/2008)

ISSN 1795-5262

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FSD Bulletin is the electronic newsletter of the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. The Bulletin provides information and news related to the data archive and social science research.


Finnish Social Science Data Archive
E-mail: fsd@tuni.fi

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Ethics Review on Its Way to Humanities

Päivi Vännilä

An international publication, a foreign sponsor or a foreign research partner may require ethics review in humanities research. The HYMY II working group has been appointed to look into the need for ethics review in Finland and to put forward a proposal concerning its implementation in practice. The group will release the final report in December 2008 or January 2009.

Ethics review has been used in medicine since the end of the 1960s. The evaluation has been carried out by impartial and independent hospital district ethics committees.

The new need for ethics review in Finland is not based on perceived malpractices but on international developments.

Ethics review does not necessarily increase bureaucracy, since most research can still be conducted without ethics review. It cannot guarantee the ethical quality of research either - however, it can guarantee protection for research participants and researchers.

If a new research ethics body is appointed, it will subject research plans and supplementary materials to review in order to examine the ethical acceptability of the research, the status and rights of research participants (i.e. voluntary nature of participation, informed consent), and potential risks and disadvantages compared to advantages.

According to the HYMY II working group, the field of nursing sciences displays the most urgent need for ethics review. In addition, some psychological studies require ethical preassessment. However, what is primarily needed for the social sciences and humanities are common ethical guidelines and rules rather than ethics review.

More information:

» The seminar of the National Advisory Board on Research Ethics and its working group on research ethics in the humanities and social sciences (HYMY II) The Good Bad Ethics — Is ethics review needed in humanities and social science research? The seminar was held in Helsinki on 10th March 2008.
» The letter of appointment of the HYMY II working group.