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Revised CIOMS research ethics guidance: on the importance of process for credibility

Udo Schuklenk

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2017.047


This paper reviews the 2016 CIOMS International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans. I argue that these new guidelines constitute a significant improvement over the guidelines they replace. However, the procedures put in place by CIOMS resulted in an authoring group consisting of a majority of authors and advisors hailing from the global North, while the guidelines squarely aim at influencing policies in the global South. I question CIOMS’ strategy to produce a consensus based document, and raise concerns about frequent appeals to authority designed to establish the credibility of these guidelines and the processes that led to them. It is unclear why it should be the role of a small organisation such as CIOMS to try to guide the research ethics policies in countries of the global South.

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