Research that involves living human beings as research subjects is fundamentally different from all other kinds of research. When conducting such research we are morally and ethically bound to love our brothers and sisters, whom we are using as research subjects, as we love ourselves. We must protect their privacy and treat them with respect and dignity, seeking only what is best for them, not what is best for our own research. Informed consent is the concept under which care and concern lives itself out. Much has been written on the need for informed consent and its origins in modern ethical thought. The following gives some idea of the background and urgency of the issue.
“All modern codes of ethics concerning research with human subjects affirm the moral importance of a principle of informed consent. It is a principle born of outrage at the atrocities committed by German physicians and scientists under the Hitler regime. As is well known, thousands of concentration camp prisoners were used as human guinea pigs against their will in experiments that were typically excruciatingly painful and generally led to death or permanent disfigurement. As a part of its written decision, the war crimes tribunal that convicted several of the notorious “Nazi Doctors” produced what has since become known as the Nuremberg Code (1), widely regarded as the first international code of human experimentation ethics. The code begins simply, with one statement set apart from all the rest:
‘The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.’ “
A well thought out and carefully constructed Informed Consent document is a vital part of any research involving human subjects. This part of this web site is intended to give you a very basic introduction to the informed consent concept and the information sheet you need to create for your research project. Work closely with your faculty advisor.