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Mamotte, N., & Wassenaar, D. (2009). Ethics Review in a Developing Country: A Survey of South African Social Scientists’ Experiences. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 4(4), 69–78. https://doi.org/10.1525/jer.2009.4.4.69


We report the findings of a preliminary study of social science researchers' experiences of ethics review from a developing country perspective. Social science researchers' experiences of ethics review were coded as negative (42.6%), positive (21.3%), or mixed (36.2%). Ethics review was primarily experienced as negative for pragmatic reasons such as slow turnaround time, inadequate review and problems with the centralization of review. Our finding that South African researchers experience the same problems and frustrations with RECs as developed country researchers affirms that South Africa's problems with ethics review are not due to it being a less developed system, but to general review practices as they arise naturally in institutions. Developing countries thus have a unique opportunity to learn from the reported dissatisfactions and mistakes of developed countries, to avoid procedures that have hindered ethics review of much social science research in developed countries, and to fashion their own review procedures in ways that are more appropriate to key ethical issues arising in social science research and local conditions and resources.