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Fragmented or centralized?: Comparative case study of ethical frameworks for social research in Philippines and Taiwan


With the delegation of ethical checking mechanisms to the institutional review boards (IRBs), flexible interpretations of overarching research ethics principles differed across scientific and cultural settings. This article is a comparative case study of ethical frameworks for social research in the Philippines and Taiwan. Justifications in choosing the two cases preponderantly focused on data trends regarding research and development (R&D) policy and practice. This article compared the elements observed in the two frameworks, specifically in terms of: national regulations, curricular requirements, procedures for IRB review application, and other arrangements. Findings revealed that the Philippine academe enjoys relative autonomy or described as more fragmented, unlike Taiwan institutions that strictly follow centralized and country-wide standardization. The intensification of research ethics in Taiwan did not, however, hamper R&D efforts. On the contrary, the Taiwan model may have strengthened the current research ecosystem and bolstered confidence in the different sectors, thus generating multi-sectoral funding and collaborations.

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  1. The use of the term ‘IRB Centers’ is not officially acknowledged in Taiwan. It is used in this article to emphasize that not all institutions may be granted IRB accreditation. Instead, some institutions would follow a customary practice of submitting their review applications to an accredited IRB that they are in agreement with, implying that IRBs cater to client institutions that function akin to a ‘consultancy center’. For consistency, the use of ‘IRB Center’ is only used for collective terminology.


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The author is grateful for the comments and suggestions of esteemed colleagues. All your insights were considered and carefully integrated to improve the manuscript to its current form.

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Correspondence to Jayson Troy F. Bajar.

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Bajar, J.F. Fragmented or centralized?: Comparative case study of ethical frameworks for social research in Philippines and Taiwan. International Journal of Ethics Education 7, 235–255 (2022).

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  • Research ethics
  • IRB system
  • Social research
  • Taiwan
  • Philippines