Ethical considerations and other issues that should be considered when using human subjects in research will be discussed in this module.
- Describe the best ways to recruit human research subjects.
- Discuss ethical considerations in regards to the use of human subjects.
- List the rights and responsibilities of human research participants.
- Describe the role of the Institutional Review Board.
Researchers that plan to use human subjects in their research design have a series of issues that will need to be addressed as the project moves forward. Some of these issues include where to find research participants, how to recruit them, how to incentivize them, and how to ensure their rights are not violated just to name a few.
The first step will be for the research proposal to be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for assurance that the research design and methodology is ethically sound and does not violate any rights of the research participants. The use of an IRB also helps to protect the institution and the researchers against potential legal implications from any behavior that may be deemed unethical.
The researcher must then decide how best to recruit participants. This will depend greatly on the research question and the methodology. The researcher will need to identify the target audience and decide upon the best way to reach out to that population. For example, if the research question was dealing with the use of social media in recruiting students for college, the researcher would want to find ways to reach out on college campuses perhaps by setting up in convenient locations and polling students. If the research was examining the impact of education and counseling on the outcomes for diabetic patients in a particular clinical, the researcher would reach out directly to the diabetic patients of that clinic, perhaps through mail or internet surveys. The graph below displays just a few of the ways in which researchers may contact their target audience in an attempt to recruit subjects. Incentives are often effective when recruiting subjects and can be used to motivate subjects to comply and stay with the project. The resources on this page provide additional information regarding recruitment of subjects and incentives.