The Common Rule Protects Human Subjects

In 1976 the National Commission for the Protection of Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research published the Belmont Report. This report established basic ethical principles and guidelines for the conduct of research with human subjects.

In 1991, the current Federal rules that protect people who participate in research were published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and are often referred to as the Common Rule because it was simultaneously adopted by 15 different Federal departments and agencies. The Common Rule was revised in 2017. The Common Rule generally requires that researchers get informed consent from volunteers who participate in research. This includes giving them information about the study, including risks and benefits. One key protection in the Common Rule is the requirement for appropriate review and approval of research by institutional review boards (IRBs). IRBs are committees that make sure researchers follow the HHS rules and ethical guidelines as they carry out their studies.

Carthage Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The Institutional Review Board of Carthage College ensures the safety and well-being of human participants in research. IRB Guidelines apply to research conducted at Carthage and/or by Carthage investigators. All human studies reviewed by the Carthage IRB require a Principal Investigator (PI) who is a Carthage faculty member or an administrator. Researchers who plan to use human participants must file a proposal with the Institutional Review Board Office that explains the research and its use of participants.

For questions related to the Carthage IRB, please contact the current IRB Chair or the IRB Administrator.

Becoming a Research Volunteer: It’s Your Decision

Research has led to important discoveries that make our lives better. Many potential research participants make their decisions by considering the benefits and burdens of research and research participation—including how research participation and research outcomes may impact their physical, psychological, economic, familial, social, and spiritual well-being. Giving back and contributing to the discovery of new knowledge can also shape personal decisions about research participation. Deciding whether to become a research participant is an important choice, a personal choice, and a voluntary one. It should also be an informed choice. You should have answers to all your questions before you choose.

Common Questions Potential Research Participants Have

  • What exactly will happen to me in the research?
  • Will there be any unpleasant side effects?
  • Will the research help me personally?
  • What other options do I have?
  • Can I leave the study at any time?
  • Will participating in the study cost me personally?

See a list of additional resources and questions to ask when deciding whether to volunteer as a research participant, provided by the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP).