Ethical assessment of clinical research publications

Med Law. 2001;20(4):595-603.


The ethical quality of research could be improved in four ways: increasing the expertise of research committees, encouraging the popularization of research in ethics, delivering medical training in ethics, and improving the a posteriori control of editorial committees. With regard to the last point, we propose ethical guidelines that may be used as a screening device for publication. Scientific publications have a duty to contribute to the diffusion and application of ethical principles. But too often pieces of research published in these journals do not adequately demonstrate their ethical reflections and chosen ethical procedures. Only scientific procedures are extensively discussed. We think it is essential to develop an assessment of the ethical value of research that is featured in journals, in the same way that the methodological value is assessed. This paper reports what motivated our group to create an ethical scheme, how we developed this scheme and what was our process of validation. In the same way that today a study can be refused publication for methodological inadequacies, in the future publication could more likely be refused for ethical shortcomings.

MeSH terms

  • Ethics Committees / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Ethics*
  • France
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Quality Control
  • Scientific Misconduct / legislation & jurisprudence*