A framework for reviewing dual use research

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‘Dual use research’ is research with results that can potentially cause harm as well as benefits. Harm can be to people, animals or the environment. For most research, harms can be difficult to predict and quantify, so in this sense almost all research could be seen as having dual use potential. This chapter will present a framework for reviewing dual use research by justifying why the responsibility for approving and conducting research does not sit with Research Ethics Committees (RECs) alone. By mapping out the wider research landscape, it will be argued that both responsibility and accountability for dual use research sits on the shoulders of broader governance structures that reflect the philosophical and political aspirations of society as a whole. RECs are certainly still important for identifying potential ‘dual use research of concern’, and perhaps teasing out some of the details that may be hidden within research plans or projects, but in a well-functioning system should never be the sole gate keepers that determine which research should, and should not, be allowed to proceed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthical Issues in Covert, Security and Surveillance Research
EditorsRon Iphofen, Dónal O’Mathúna
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781802624113
ISBN (Print)9781802624144
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Research Ethics and Integrity
PublisherEmerald Publishing
ISSN (Print)2398-6018


  • dual use
  • dual use research of concern
  • Research Ethics Committee
  • Institutional Review Board
  • research governance
  • research integrity


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