Vision & Objectives

Trust in Science and Technology, as well as the utility and acceptability of their innovative outcomes, is crucially dependent on the ethical qualities of the research. New technologies, transformative research and new research players constantly change the realm of research, and as science and technology progress, ethical challenges also continuously evolve. In the changing research environment, new human rights and principles are arising, impactful risks emerge and new questions must be asked of the research.

Research Ethics Committees (RECs) (also known as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)), are the link between researchers, research participants and society through the process of ethics review of research projects.  RECs play a critical role in safeguarding the rights, well-being and dignity of research participants, but also animal welfare and nature’s integrity. Despite the significant function of RECs in ensuring respect of values during research, existing models of ethics reviews come into question in light of the changing research practices and the disruptive technologies. Most of these novel technologies cannot be ethically reviewed in the pre-funding phase, simply because during the life-cycle of such research projects several factors are not constant, which can have an impact on the potential risks and the ethical issues raised by the research. At the same time, “ethics-by-design” in research and capacity building of researchers themselves are promising approaches to complement the role of RECs in ensuring that ethical judgements and values are incorporated in the project design, fostering responsibility and accountability.

To address these issues, CHANGER aspires to:

  • provide an evidence base for the challenges posed by contemporary research in the ethics review process of research
  • develop and pilot innovative approaches in research ethics reviews aiming to embed ethics-by-design and eventually foster support rather than policing of research by RECs
  • develop new tools for RECs and researchers to assess and strengthen their own capacities to address new challenges and new human rights
  • enhance knowledge in the ethical challenges posed by the changing research environment and upskill ethics review experts and reseachers
  • identify the policy implications of the proposed innovative approaches and tools
  • promote policy choices supporting the uptake and dissemination of novel ethics review approaches in the European Research Area.

The interdisciplinary CHANGER partnership has extensive and long-standing experience-based expertise in research ethics reviews, integrity oversight and human rights and has the potential to provide novel approaches to the needs in ethics reviews.

Go Up