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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 196-197

Is it easy to be an Ethics Committee member? (Experiences as an Ethics Committee member)


Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication5-Oct-2017

Correspondence Address:
Santosh K Chaturvedi
National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/picr.PICR_69_17

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How to cite this article:
Chaturvedi SK. Is it easy to be an Ethics Committee member? (Experiences as an Ethics Committee member). Perspect Clin Res 2017;8:196-7

How to cite this URL:
Chaturvedi SK. Is it easy to be an Ethics Committee member? (Experiences as an Ethics Committee member). Perspect Clin Res [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Nov 15];8:196-7. Available from: http://www.picronline.org/text.asp?2017/8/4/196/215977



Sir,

I wish to share my amusing and educative experiences as a member of the Ethics Committee. I look forward to other members sharing their own experiences.

It was a pleasant surprise when one fine day I received a letter of having been appointed as a member of the Institute Ethics Committee (EC). No warning shot; though no consent was sought from me, nevertheless, it was welcome and very exciting. I consented in my mind and accepted the responsibility in writing. I always used to wonder what the EC members do, walking around so stiffly and seriously. Now I would get to know, I hoped.

From the next moment, this letter of appointment brought about a sudden transformation in me and my outlook; I felt above moral standards of my own. Suddenly, the burden of all moral and ethical values fell on my shoulder as if I had to ensure that all ethical standards of the world are maintained!

When the proposals started trickling in, I started viewing each proposal with skepticisms, mistrust, and paranoia. My focus went on every aspect of the proposals starting from the title, is it right, is it suitable, and is it an appropriate title, can I suggest an alternative better more appropriate title, is there enough justification for this study, what will happen if this study is not done (nothing will happen), is the methodology good or how can I improve upon it. I felt I have become an expert in language, translations and grammar, and research methodology not to mention overnight I became a statistician. In addition, I paid attention to the details of not only research but also budget, personnel, and other administrative things. Is the signature legible? Have all investigators put the date, and so on. The ethical aspects seemed to be least of my concern. I hoped, wished, and knew that the investigators will look after the ethical aspects. In the meetings, I realized a sudden power, God sent. Whatever I said was right, or so it seemed. What a great opportunity to hold a viva voce with investigators, young and old; experienced and novice! Why this sample size? Why this scale or instrument? Why do not you have a control group? Why do you have a control group? Some vicarious joys in seeing them squirm and twist. The investigators said, You are right Sir; you are always right; we will do as you say (just approve the proposal); we will alter the title to your liking, prepare the informed consent form as you say (though the guidelines differ on that), underline the words you say, and change whatever you want to be changed. I felt proud at this revelation of my hidden enormous knowledge about research methods, and proposal writings, even without ever having attended any course on research methodology or ethics. Endless discussions on which is the most suitable translation of a word used in the informed consent form were such fun.

Outside the committee room, in the real world, people and friends started avoiding me; they did not discuss their proposals or for that matter, anything else also, and stopped talking to me. At times, I felt, that they were talking behind my back. Only conversations I had were about the ethics approvals and proposals. At times, I suspected the few interactions between me and my colleagues were to influence my role in the EC, in favor of their proposals. I was cautious not to be influenced and declined all offers of canteen tea, coffee, and biscuits from everyone.

Another fine day, the committee changed; my name was missing from the new list. I guess my term finished and next moment, I retrieved back to my old self, and all the above changes in my behavior and personality disappeared, such as a nightmare or a sweet dream, over. Many a times, I still get lingering thoughts of what else I could have done or should have done, when I was an EC member, to make this world a better place. I let these ponderings wander in my mind. I am sure; I will get another chance, maybe as a member Secretary or Chairman, why not!

[These may kindly be viewed as satirical musings]

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.





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