Going through the case studies on ethical standards in the field of research, I was struck by one idea. Throughout the case studies, it is clear that human life is invaluable. Several sets of laws and rules are set in place to ensure human subjects are protected from torturous and demeaning research procedures. These rules are noble in their goal and ideologies. I thus agree with each of the set regulations as they help preserve life. However, I feel that the rules are contradictory in their aim, and sometimes they even hinder valuable scientific progress.
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The Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) require researchers to align their practices within set ethical standards. For instance, they require researchers to fully explain the intent and procedures of the research and seek consent from prospective participants prior to participation. Researchers should also minimize risks, select subjects justly, and carry out a cost benefit analysis when conducting research. These principles are echoed in the Canadian Research Ethics Boards (REBs), where by respect for a human subject is an essential requirement for research. Achieving any number of these requirements is hard in complex research work. This discourages researchers from venturing to new fields to provide solutions to existing problems. IRBs and REBs make it harder for researchers to conduct research due to their strict requirements.
In real life situations, it is hard to achieve an ideal. I feel that the ethical requirements on research aim at achieving the elusive perfection at the expense of progress. The role of scientific research in development cannot be undermined. Human beings are able to access cure for various diseases because of the research conducted on human subjects. The use of animals to understand the working mechanisms of various organs and treatments is insufficient to introduce the drugs to human beings. However, it is also clear that only very few human subjects would agree to participate if they understood all the implications of a test. It is therefore hard to uphold all the research ethics and attain success in the research industry. This was the case in the Guatemala syphilis experiment, and despite the ethical concerns raised, millions of human beings have been saved from the menace of syphilis ever since. Scientific research cannot be limited within the walls of culture either. Our understanding of history is grounded on the research conducted on fossil remains of animals. The fossil material help human beings explain their origin hence giving them a sense of identity and belonging. This would not have been achieved if archaeologists were not allowed to conduct their research on old bones. It is therefore baseless to condemn archaeologists who wish to conduct research on remains of bones in order to establish differences among different groups of people.
In brief, research is a significant aspect of development and progress in several fields. It enhances the lives of people by alleviating pain and enhancing understanding for several years. Such a valuable tool should be embraced by nations who have the welfare of their citizens at heart. However, stringent rules discourage these under-takings and this costs the nation a terrible loss for several years. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis should be the major principle behind conducting research on human subjects. This will ensure that progress is not sacrificed at the altar of bureaucracy.
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