Frank Furedi attacks research ethics committees as limiting academic freedom (Working Knowledge, February 11).
I am a member of both clinical and non-clinical ethics committees. I am not aware that they restrict academic freedom either by refusing a research topic or by putting constraints on the interpretation of data. They consider what is going to happen to the subjects of, or participants in, research and seek to safeguard their rights.
There will inevitably be differences of opinion. Although in general lying to research participants is unacceptable, in very specific circumstances not telling the whole truth might be deemed appropriate.
This is, however, a judgement best made by a group of peers and, ideally, lay people, than by a lone individual with a vested interest. Academics do not have a right to use anyone in their research in any way they see fit.
To suggest otherwise is not to support academic freedom but to raise academic research above the need to respect others.
Jacqueline M. Atkinson