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Cooper, J. A., & McNair, L. (2019). Reviewing Student Research: Can We Consider Bad Science to Be Ethical? Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 14(1), 88–89. https://doi.org/10.1177/1556264618816539


Our institutional review board (IRB)/research ethics committee (REC) receives many applications from students who are required to conduct a research project as a requirement. Although a faculty mentor or supervisor is required to work with the students on the design of their study and to have signed off on the application, we still see a lot of proposed studies that are poorly designed, underpowered to answer the research question, and sometimes show a real lack of understanding of the realities of research and the resources that will be needed. We used to try to work with the students to help them understand and improve their research designs, but we do not have the resources to do this continually. Most of the research is minimal risk. How much time should we spend on these protocols and trying to improve what many of our IRB’s/REC’s members see as bad science due to poor supervision, and therefore inherently unethical?