Bioethics Blogs

Brazil calls for "equitable representation from the Social Sciences and Humanities"

Brazil is revising its research ethics standards in ways that will help tailor them to research in the social sciences and the humanities. The standards provide for greater representation by scholars in those fields when policies and decisions are made, and they decenter some of the medical assumptions that had previously governed all research. But they do not go as far as the Canadian TCPS2 in recognizing the legitimacy of critical inquiry.

[Iara Coelho Zito Guerriero, “Approval of the Resolution Governing the Ethics of Research in Social Sciences, the Humanities, and Other Disciplines That Use Methodologies Characteristic of These Areas: Challenges and Achievements,” Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 21, no. 8 (August 2016): 2619–29, doi:10.1590/1413–81232015218.17212016.]

In Brazil, a National Research Ethics Committee (Comissão Nacional de Ética em Pesquisa, or CONEP) oversees each local Research Ethics Committee (Comitê de Ética em Pesquisa, or CEP). As in other countries, medical researchers and health officials have dominated the crafting of policy, resulting in restrictions that make little sense for research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH).

Since 2013, public health researcher Iara Guerriero and other members of a Working Group in Social Sciences and Humanities have labored to improve this situation, and in April 2016 they won National Board of Health approval for their resolution. In her article, Guerriero publishes the resolution and notes four major advances:

  1. Equitable composition of CONEP and involvement of SSH members in reviewing the protocols for these areas.
  2. Recognition that scientific merit must be assessed by competent areas.
  3. Discrimination between the process of obtaining and registering consent.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.