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Hammersley, M. (2009). Against the ethicists: on the evils of ethical regulation. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12(3), 211–225. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645570802170288


Ethical regulation of social research has increased considerably in the UK in the past few years, not least as a result of the ESRC’s Research Ethics Framework. This article questions whether ethics committees are capable of making sound judgments about the ethics of what is proposed and practised in particular research projects. In addition, the legitimacy of such regulation is questioned, on ethical grounds. Finally, it is argued that increased regulation will not raise the ‘ethical standard’ of social science and will probably worsen the quality of what it produces.