All research on human subjects should be conducted in accord with the following Statement of Principles Regarding Research on Human Subjects.
In planning a research study, the investigator has the responsibility to make careful evaluation of its ethical acceptability, taking into account the following principles for research with human beings. To the extent that this appraisal, weighing scientific and human values, suggests a compromise of any principle, including those that involve the privacy of the participants, the investigator incurs an increasingly serious obligation to seek ethical advice and to observe stringent safeguards to protect the rights of the research participants.
There are four essential components to be considered in evaluating the ethics of a particular piece of research: keeping the participants free from harm; confidentiality; deception; and feedback. Taking each in turn:
- The investigator protects participants from physical and mental discomfort, harm danger, and/or invasion of their privacy. If risk of such consequences exists, the investigator is required to inform the participants of that fact, secure consent before proceeding, and take all possible measures to minimize distress.
- Information obtained about the individual research participant during the course of an investigation is confidential unless otherwise agreed to in advance. When the possibility exists that others may obtain access to such information, this possibility, together with the plans for protecting confidentiality, must be explained to the participants as part of the procedure for obtaining informed consent.
- Openness and honesty are essential characteristics of the relationship between investigator and research participant. When the methodological requirements of a study necessitate concealment or deception, the investigator is required to insure as soon as possible the participant’s understanding of the reasons for this action and a sufficient justification for the procedure employed.
- After the data are collected, the investigator should provide the participant with information about the nature and results of the study and remove any misconceptions that may have arisen. Where scientific or humane values justify delaying or withholding information, the investigator acquires a special responsibility to assure that there are no damaging consequences for the participant.
Project review will apply to all research involving human subjects including: experiments of all kinds; surveys and questionnaires, whether mailed or personally administered; and all types of participant observation work (intensive interviews, oral histories, systematic observation). Project reviews will be conducted in accord with local state and federal regulations, and research guidelines of the academic discipline where appropriate.
The review procedure to be followed in individual cases will depend upon two factors: who originates the research project within the college community and who will be the research subjects. All off-campus research (i.e., research involving people who are not members of the college community) must be approved either by the Institutional Review Board or its adjunct committee, the Administrative Review Board. Research conducted on members of the college community, on the other hand, will be reviewed in one of three ways: by department and multi-department review committees when faculty or students within those departments devise classroom or other research projects; by the IRB when faculty or students originate research projects in departments that do not have already established review committees; or by the ARB when research projects originate in administrative offices, college committees, Allegheny Student Government, or any other official student organization.