Research ethics may be defined as a specific set of ethical principles that should be considered by investigators while conducting research. In general, the history of research ethics implies the history of its codification” in scientific codes of conduct such as the Nuremberg Code (1947) and the Declaration of Helsinki (1964)” (Paul, 2017, p. 1379). The majority of textbooks related to research ethics “trace the history of their field back to codification issued in response to medical experiments in Nazi Germany” (Paul, 2017, p. 1379). Formulated in the middle of the 20th century, the following principles of research ethics should be respected by any research team in the present day as well:
- Informed consent. It goes without saying that the participants of any research should be aware that they are involved in a scientific experiment. They should be provided with all information necessary for deliberate decision-making in an honest and clear way. Moreover, participants should be definitely informed about the potential risks of experimental medication or treatment.
- Right to reject. This principle is directly connected with the principle of the individual’s informed consent. As a person has a right to receive information concerning research, he or she has a right to agree or disagree to participate in it, as well.
- Limitation of harm. Similar to health care delivery, the ethical principle of research implies nonmaleficence and the participants’ safety. However, a harmful experiment may be justified in the case of a human-made catastrophe, pandemic, or natural disaster. In addition, individuals may give their informed concern if they possess unique characteristics required for research.
- Data protection and privacy. Any research team should consider particular rules concerning the collection, storage, management, and use of participants’ data. All published materials, especially observation notes and interview transcripts, should be anonymized. In addition, researchers cannot use participants’ data for any other purpose except research.
After the analysis of multiple articles related to the PICOT question, it is possible to conclude that scholars who conduct researches adequately protect the rights of human subjects as they provide information concerning the following of research ethics in terms of legislation. For instance, Saito, et al. (2016) that describe the examination of the impact of low-dose aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events in male and female patients with diabetes in Japan, mention that “the JPAD trial and the JPAD2 study were performed according to the Declaration of Helsinki and were approved by the ethics committee of each participating hospital (Nara Medical University Ethics Committee and Graduate School of Medical Science, Kumamoto University Ethics Committee)” (p. 660). In addition, each participant signed the written informed consent before participation in the trial.
At the same time, scholars who make the meta-analysis or critical review of randomized trials do not emphasize their accordance with the principles of research ethics. From a personal perspective, this information should be provided for readers as not all of them have an opportunity to get acquainted with original sources. However, it is highly significant to inform people that researchers consider ethical rules in relation to human subjects while conducting any research, and the established standards of humanity and benevolence are not disregarded in the present day. That is why to put information concerning the accordance of trials with research ethics in meta-analyses and literature review as well is recommendable.
Paul, H. (2017). The scientific self: Reclaiming its place in the history of research ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24, 1379–1392. Web.
Saito, Y., Okada, S., Ogawa, H., Soejima, H., Sakuma, M., Nakayama, M., Doi, N., Jinnouchi, H., Waki, M., Masuda, I., & Morimoto, T. (2017). Low-dose aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: 10-Year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Circulation, 135(7), 659-670. Web.