More Than Cheating: Deception, IRB Shopping, and the Normative Legitimacy of IRBs
Article first published online: 3 JAN 2013
© 2012 American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Inc.
The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Special Issue: SYMPOSIUM 1: Nanodiagnostics and Nanotherapeutics: Building Research Ethics and Oversight
Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 990–996, Winter 2012
How to Cite
Spellecy, R. and May, T. (2012), More Than Cheating: Deception, IRB Shopping, and the Normative Legitimacy of IRBs. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 40: 990–996. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2012.00726.x
- Issue published online: 3 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 3 JAN 2013
Deception, cheating, and loopholes within the IRB approval process have received significant attention in the past several years. Surveys of clinical researchers indicate common deception ranging from omitting information to outright lying, and controversy surrounding the FDA's decision not to ban “IRB shopping” (the practice of submitting protocols to multiple IRBs until one is found that will approve the protocol) has raised legitimate concerns about the integrity of the IRB process. While at first blush these practices seem to cast aspersions on the integrity of clinical researchers, the moral issues raised go deeper than the ethics of cheating. To the extent that these practices are common, or represent an IRB system that places unreasonable burdens on those seeking IRB approval, we should consider whether non-compliance reflects problems of normative legitimacy for the IRB system itself.