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AbstractApplication for Research Ethics Committee (REC) approval and the conduct of medical research is paper intensive. This retrospective study examined all applications to a single REC in the south of England over one year. It estimated the mass of paper used, comparing the proportional paper consumption of different trial types and during different stages of the research process, quantifying the consumption in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. In 2009, 68 trials were submitted to the REC. Total paper consumption for the REC process and study conduct was 176,150 sheets of A4 paper (879 kg), equivalent to an estimated 11.5 million sheets (88 tonnes, 2100 trees) a year for the U.K.; the REC process accounted for 26.4%. REC applications and the conduct of approved trials generate considerable environmental impact through paper consumption contributing to the NHS's carbon footprint. Paper use might be reduced through the implementation of digital technologies and revised research methods, namely changing attitudes in both researchers and ethics committees.
Chakladar, Abhijoy, Eckstein, Sue and White, Stuart M (2011) Paper use in research ethics applications and study conduct. Clinical Medicine, 11 (1). pp. 44-47. ISSN 1470-2118