By SATORI press office and Trilateral Research, 30 August 2017
The Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN) and Danish Standards (DS), in collaboration with partners in the EU-funded SATORI project, have created the first international pre-standard, a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA), addressing the role and procedures of the ethics committee and ethical impact assessment of research and innovation (R&I). The CWA includes perspectives from many EU countries, and several non-EU countries, i.e., US and China. The document is endorsed by EUREC, the European Network of Research Ethics Committees.
Why are ethics assessment standards important?
Given the complexity of scientific research and impact of emerging technologies on life, it is important that scientific research and technology development is conducted in accordance with high ethical standards. Standards help us produce and introduce new technologies to the market, and at the same time help us properly assess their impact on environment and society. The SATORI CWA has the following unique features:
- It is the first international standard document for ethics committees and ethical impact assessment of R&I;
- It is based on an extensive study of hundreds of existing guidelines, studies on ethics assessment and ethics committees, interviews and feedback from hundreds of stakeholders;
- It is comprehensive standard covering all fields, with special coverage of social sciences and humanities, natural sciences, engineering sciences, medical and life sciences, and computer and information sciences;
- It includes ethics assessment guidelines for research and technological innovation;
- It covers procedures and guidelines for the establishment and composition of ethics committees, and their operations;
- It addresses quality assurance in ethics assessment;
- It contains a clear methodology to assess ethical impacts of research and technology development;
- It is compatible with, and can be adapted to different value systems and cultural contexts;
- It is applicable to diverse organisational contexts, including universities, medical hospitals, research funding organisations, industry etc.
The SATORI CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA 17145) consists of two parts.
Part 1 contains core recommendations on ethics assessment and the role, composition and operations of ethics committees.
Part 2 contains an ethical impact assessment framework, for anticipating and ethically assessing social and environmental consequences of R&I.
This European CWA is the result of extensive investigations and broad consultation and mutual learning processes with hundreds of stakeholders.
Both documents can be downloaded for free at the SATORI project website: http://satoriproject.eu/publication_type/standards/
They can also be purchased from NEN, DS and other European national standards bodies.