Ethical Research With Human Subjects

A highly sensitive area for ethical research is one that deals with human subjects. Ethical standards for research work involving humans as test subjects are being placed in high regard since such work deals with human lives. Human subjects are usually involved in most medical research work. In order to uphold and preserve the rights of the human subjects, strict ethical standards are usually followed.

Personal Autonomy

When it comes to human ethical research, personal autonomy should be upheld in the case of choosing possible human subjects. During research work, possible human subjects should not be in any way coerced or influenced into becoming part of the study. The decision to do so should be left on the self-determination of the human subjects themselves whether to participate or not.

Benefits And Risks

As part of human ethical research, benefits should be the primary aim why human subjects are to be used. Any research work may be considered ethical only and only if its primary aim is to look for findings that would provide a general benefit to humans. Research work which aims to do harm is not considered ethical in any way, especially when human subjects are being used.

On the same note, research concerning human subjects should also involve the most minimal of risks as possible. This would include the risks in terms of the probability of harm and the possible magnitude of it. Research projects should first try to assess the various risks that the human subjects may possibly go into and evaluate of safety concerns and issues are well taken cared of. When such risks are identified as well as minimized as much as possible, it is the right of the human subjects to know what risks are involved before they are to make their decision.


It is part of the standards for human subjects to be reimbursed for their participation of research studies. Reimbursement may be provided for lost earnings, travel costs and other expenses. Some forms of reimbursement may also be given as compensation for inconveniences and the time the subjects spent for participating. But there are also issues and concerns involved.

There are certain reimbursements that can either be considered as acceptable and unacceptable. For example, reimbursing a human subject for expenses incurred during a research study may be considered as acceptable. But excessively large compensatory payments made to human subjects can be considered as unacceptable since it might be the sole means to persuade the participants to take undue risks that may be against their better judgment. Such payment concerns are usually carefully assessed and considered by the ethical review committee before they are approved.


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