Guiding Ethics Review in Pharmacy Education Research and Scholarship at UBC: Clarifying the Unclear

  • Simon P Albon University of British Columbia
  • Franklin Hu University of British Columbia
Keywords: ethics review, ethics vetting guide, educational scholarship, quality assurance/improvement, scholarship of teaching and learning


While it goes without saying that ethically sound practices are imperative for high-quality educational scholarship, institutional ethics guidance is often unclear about how to treat educational scholarship generally, and quality improvement/assurance studies and the scholarship of teaching and learning, specifically. Amongst health profession education researchers, including those in pharmacy, this lack of clarity has led to confusion regarding existing ethics governance and ambivalence regarding ethics requirements. Drawing on the experiences of one pharmacy school in western Canada, this commentary describes an ethics vetting guide developed explicitly to address current uncertainty about ethics requirements for pharmacy education scholarship. Clarifying the problem, describing the guide, and exploring what was learned along the way provide a basis for re-centering ethics in the development of scholarly projects and decision-making regarding formal ethics review. The importance of instilling ethical intelligence, delineating research from quality improvement/assurance work, and addressing current  gaps in  ethics oversight and governance of  educational scholarship are among key lessons learned during guide development along with suggestions for new institutional ethics guidance directly targeting  educational scholarship to supplement current national guidelines.


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Received 2021-04-02
Accepted 2021-08-20
Published 2021-09-02