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Clinical research ethics in Irish healthcare: diversity, dynamism and medicalization.Gaining ethical clearance to conduct a study is an important aspect of all research involving humans but can be time-consuming and daunting for novice researchers. This article stems from a larger ethnographic study that examined research capacity building in Irish nursing and midwifery. Data were collected over a 28-month time frame from a purposive sample of 16 nurse or midwife research fellows who were funded to undertake full-time PhDs. Gaining ethical clearance for their studies was reported as an early 'rite of passage' in the category of 'labouring the doctorate'. This article penetrates the complexities in Irish clinical research ethics by describing the practices these nurse and midwife researchers encountered and the experiences they had. The key issue of representation that occurred in the context of 'medicalized' research ethics is further explored including its meaning for nursing or midwifery research.