Protecting Participants’ Rights

One of the most important phases of the Systematic Inquiry Cycle, and of your research work involves Protecting Participants’ Rights. If your study involves human subjects, your proposed research will require some level of review by your Institutional Review Board committee (IRB). Each institution’s IRB is charged with reviewing and approve research to be conducted by its members. Review by an IRB committee may be expedited or require a full committee to convene. Some research is exempt from IRB review, but review criteria vary by institution.

Protecting participants’ rights is a foundation of ethical practice. When protecting participants’ rights, you should consider the following three factors, as guidance for planning and conducting your study: Beneficence (i.e., minimizing risks, maximizing benefits); Justice (i.e., ensuring equitable selection and protection); and Respect for Persons (i.e., informed consent about study activities and risks). Methodological considerations related to participants’ rights include securing student assent or parental consent before collecting data; and ensuring confidentiality through the use of secure coding/identification and data management systems.

Tools for Protecting Participants’ Rights

There are a plethora of resources and tools that can provide guidance for ensuring and protecting participants’ rights, as part of your work. Your primary resource should be information provided by your institutional office of research.