What happens when there is no local ethics committee?

Case number:

Case text (Anonymised)

A paper from Taiwan was reviewed and accepted for publication. However, one of the reviewers raised the question of ethics committee approval. When the editors checked with the authors, they responded that there is no ethics committee at their university and they were therefore not able to seek ethical approval. What is COPE’s view on this? The study was fairly straightforward involving a questionnaire, some simple lung function, skin, and blood tests.


Can we verify that there is no ethics committee at this University? Taiwan does have ethics committees and the authors should know that they need such approval. It must be made clear to investigators that their work will not be published without ethics committee approval. The editors should contact the authors and tell them that their paper cannot be considered for publication.

Follow up: 

Nothing more has been heard from the authors.