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We need to talk about research ethics committees (RECs)
  1. Ben Parkinson
  1. Nursing and Community Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ben Parkinson, Nursing and Community Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, G4 0BA, UK; ben.parkinson{at}

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Research ethics committees (RECs) (institutional review boards) came to prominence after the Second World War and were introduced to protect research participants and reduce unethical research.1 Over recent years, I have had the privilege of serving with different RECs and have been impressed by the commitment and dedication of REC members who give their time and expertise for the benefit of others. REC members sometimes feel they do not get the recognition they deserve,2 but RECs are an essential part of clinical research and play a key role in improving health.3 The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of thorough and timely ethical review, so researchers could respond rapidly to the global emergency and complete important clinical research without unnecessary delays.4

RECs have a vital role to play in clinical research, but there are concerns that the current system is burdensome, inconsistent and that excessive regulation can impede clinical research.5 6 Another important concern …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests BP is the deputy editor for content with EBN.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.