Ethics in Translation: Research Ethics between the Humanities and the Medical Sciences

  • Datum: –16.00
  • Plats: Zoom
  • Arrangör: Centrum för medicinsk humaniora
  • Kontaktperson: Vida Sundseth Brenna, Mirko Pasquini
  • Seminarium

Medicinsk humaniora

Online seminarium (zoom)

Research in the Humanities is increasingly subject to ethical review. In fields such as the Medical humanities this is particularly pressing in that the potential empirical material is also regulated within a medical domain. Medical scientific understandings of concepts such as ‘data’ and ‘research subject’ are transported into the humanities from the medical sciences. What is data within the medical sciences today? And what does it mean within the humanities?

Invited speakers: 

Vidar Enebakk, PhD, Director for the Norwegian National Committee for Research Ethics in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Edward Dove, PhD, Reader in Reader in Health Law and Regulation, University of Edinburgh

Seminariet arrangeras i samarbete med Nordic Network for Young Scholars in The Medical Humanities.

För länk till online-seminariet, vänligen kontakta Elinor Hållén.



Vidar Enebakk    Ethical Imperialism: How Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities is Challenged by Legal Regulations

In Norway, research in the social sciences and humanities are not subject to external review or preapproval. According to The Research Ethics Act of 2017, both researchers and research institutions must ensure that all research is conducted in accordance with recognized research ethical norms. One source for ethical norms are the Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (2021) provided by NESH, a national advisory body providing guidance and resources to researchers and research institutions in accordance with principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy. However, this mode of ethical self-regulation is challenged by recent developments in the legal regulation of medical research ethics, for instance with demands of pre-approval or expansion of the Medical Research Act – much in line with the analysis by historian Zachary M. Schrag in the book Ethical Imperialism (2010). This presentation offers insights into the Norwegian system of research ethics regulation and suggests how new modes of regulation can be challenged by ethical reflection and responsibility. 


Edward Dove    Ethics Review in Scottish Universities: How Can We Do Better? Research Ethics Governance Practices in Scottish Universities

While ethical norms for conducting academic research in the United Kingdom are relatively clear, compared to research ethics committees (RECs) in the medical domain (e.g. the National Health Service), there is little empirical understanding of how university RECs themselves operate and whether they are seen to operate well. This presentation offers insights based on a project focused on the Scottish university context. Deploying a three-sided qualitative approach involving (i) document analysis; (ii) interviews with REC members, administrators, and managers; and (iii) direct observation of REC meetings, we found that RECs have diverse operation and vary in terms of what members understand to be the remit of their REC and what should constitute the content of ethics review. Overall, though, most participants perceive university RECs as operating well. Based on our findings and subsequent discussions carried during an end-of-project roundtable with stakeholders, we propose a model of collaboration that can contribute to address some of the identified issues as areas that could benefit from further improvement. This model would facilitate a heightened awareness of the importance of supporting REC members in their own effort in assisting students and staff alike in undertaking as ethically robust research as possible, including in the humanities and social sciences.