Ethical Review Process by Ethics Committees

1. Authority, Role and Mandate of Research Ethics Committees (RECs)

1.8. Accountability

Given their important role, RECs must be accountable for their work. This can be achieved in several ways.

First, RECs are immediately accountable to their constituting authority. This authority will require annual reports of activities. The constituting authority must also be committed to not overriding a negative REC opinion.

Second, RECs must demonstrate accountability towards researchers and the broader public. This can be achieved by promoting the transparency of its activities and decisions. For example:

  • Guidelines for how to make an application should be freely accessible.

  • REC members should evaluate research at officially announced meetings to allow researchers the opportunity to be heard.

  • Opinions of RECs should be justified and well communicated.

Third, authorities or sponsors of clinical trials and research may inspect/audit a trial site. This may also include the REC that reviewed the research. In such cases, inspectors/auditors will look through minutes of meetings as well as records related to the research.