The discussion in the article concerns the difficulties social science researchers (which includes law) face in complying with ethics clearance rules and ethics committees that may not be well suited to the research methodologies typically undertaken by law researchers. While the story focuses on ethics clearance in Australia, it is likely that law researchers (including PhD students) in other parts of the world face similar demands, many of which may also be irrelevant or inapposite to their research.
The article certainly accords with my own experience – even as I recognise the good intentions and hard work of those serving on ethics committees. I am, however, quite pessimistic that the present ethics clearance system will improve. Rather, I expect that it will continue to be ever more burdensome and far removed from the world of legal research.
By Colin Picker