HUMAN RESEARCH ETHICS

INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH ETHICS: ISSUES, GUIDELINES, PRINCIPLES AND VALUES

PART C:
The National Statement; values, principle and guidelines: the language and structure of the National Statement

The National Statement contains material at three levels: values, principles and guidelines. The relationship is not intended to be rigidly logical but rather one that can aid deliberation on a specific question or issue.

VALUES

For example, the value of beneficence is described at page 11 in the following terms:

"Researchers exercise beneficence in several ways: in assessing and taking account of the risks of harm and the potential benefits of research to participants and to the wider community;"

This value is reflected in one of the elements of the general principle of beneficence, at page 13:

PRINCIPLES

"1.7 Researchers are responsible for:

(a) designing research to minimise the risks of harm or discomfort to participants"

and is also expressed in the specific guideline in Chapter 3.1 that:

GUIDELINES

"3.1.11 Where possible, participants should be informed about any potential to be identified in results of research even if identifiers, such as name and address, are removed."

DISCUSSION

Thus, there is a relationship between each of the principles identified in Chapter 1 to guidelines in chapters about specific types of research, chapters (3.1 - 3.6) and guidelines in chapters about specific categories of participants (chapters 4.1 - 4.8)

In addition, constantly recurring issues of risk and benefit and consent are addressed substantially in chapters 2.1 and 2.2-2.3 respectively.

Deliberation on the specific ethical issues that research projects entail can begin at the level of guidelines or principles or of values, but often all three levels are useful in reaching an ethically defensible resolution.

Using some of the ethics issues that are identified in the three case studies in PART B, the following questions and answers are designed to show you how these components of the National Statement can be used in the review of a research proposal.

These questions are not achievement tests. However, you are encouraged to provide answers before moving to the explanations.