Reputational Risk, Academic Freedom and Research Ethics Review

Sociology Comments Off on Reputational Risk, Academic Freedom and Research Ethics Review

Drawing on scholarship around academic freedom and new public management, this article explores the way in which research ethics committees in UK universities (URECs) can come to exhibit behaviour – common in their US equivalents – that prioritises the reputational protection of their host institution over and above academic freedom and the protection of research subjects. Drawing on two case studies the article shows both how URECs can serve to restrict research that may be ‘embarrassing’ for a university and how, in high profile cases, university management come to use such committees as mechanisms for internal discipline.

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