Editorial: Ethics approval: responsibilities of journal editors, authors and research ethics committees
Meaningful progress of medicine depends on research that must ultimately involve human subjects. Obtaining ethical approval therefore, especially in medical sciences, should be a moral reflex for researchers. This unfortunately is not the case, with numerous researchers bypassing the ethics approval procedure, or simply unaware of its importance. Good research involves risks taken by research participants and uses tax payers’ money in the process. These mandates the research endeavor to aim at attaining the highest degree of respect for the sacrifices made by others for science. Most researchers mistake scientific clearance or approval, for ethics approval. For a study to be ethical sound, it must be scientifically sound. This is only one of the activities carried out during protocol review. It is not uncommon for sensitive ethical concerns, especially in the social sciences to be overlooked and considered not to be accompanied by any serious risks for the research participants.The researcher has the responsibility of systematically consulting the competent ethics committee for advice and consequent approvals or ethical waivers. Journal editors and reviewers have the duty to systematically evaluate the ethical soundness of manuscripts submitted for review. Capacity building in research ethics and institutional support for Research Ethics Committees to speed up protocol review could reduce the incentive of carrying out research in human subjects without ethics approvals. It is hypocritical and idle to continue to expect optimal reviews on time and of good quality, from ethics committees functioning purely on altruistic grounds. Capacity building for researchers in research ethics, and institutional reforms and support for Research Ethics Committees appear not to have received the attention they truly deserve.
Keywords: Ethics approval, research ethics committees, researcher, journal, reviewers