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How could it happen that the very processes intended to assure ethical research in Australia might, themselves, undermine good research practice? This paper describes one PhD candidate’s recent experiences of multicentre review for a Human Research Ethics Committee approved, low/negligible risk, qualitative study, at the crossroad of health services research and organisational research. A retrospective review of international literature about multi-centre review processes revealed that many of these experiences were not unique and might have been expected, notwithstanding Australian efforts at harmonisation of multi-centre review. This paper examines not only the burden of red-tape that was applied to a small doctoral study, but also the way in which the red-tape threatened the anonymity of potential study participants and risked exposing them to undue pressure and distress. These experiences support the view that harmonisation initiatives have not yet developed as the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council may have hoped and that further attention is needed to harmonise research governance processes.

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Journal Article

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