Avoiding Harm and Minimization of Risk | Asian University for Women (AUW): the first regional, liberal arts institution in South Asia
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Avoiding Harm and Minimization of Risk

RESOURCES / For Faculty and Staff / Research and Ethics Committee / AUW Ethical Review Committee / Avoiding Harm and Minimization of Risk
  • Human research participants: Researchers have an obligation to not inflict harm on the human research participants.  Researchers should display due care and caution at all stages of the research process to ensure that human participants are placed at minimum risk and will not suffer from any known reversible or irreversible adverse effects.  Moreover, when possible, researchers should make sure that human participants can benefit from and by the research, though at least sharing of information.  Minimal risk is defined as the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.  Studies that will expose participants to more than minimal risk will have to provide greater protection for participants.  The greater the risk, the greater the value placed on direct benefit to the participant population in the risk-benefit calculus.  If research involved especially vulnerable groups, researchers should be particularly sensitive to the risks faced by these groups and minimization of these risks.  Researchers should demonstrate to the extent possible due attention to considerations of how harms, risks, and individuals’ reactions to these are differentiated and influenced by differences between and within subject populations (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, health, social status, sexuality, religion).

    Animal research subjects: Researchers have a positive obligation to seek alternatives to animal use.  Research involving animal research subjects or animal parts should demonstrate there has been due diligence in minimizing risk and harm research animals are exposed to, as well as maximizing the benefits accrued by the research project.  According to the National Research Council:

    Proper care, use, and humane treatment of animals used in research, testing, and education require scientific and professional judgment based on knowledge of the needs of the animals and the special requirements of the research, testing, and education programs. (Institute of Laboratory Animal Research, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council 1996)

    Competence and Expertise: Researchers should demonstrate due preparation has been taken in the research design process by being familiar with the literature and methodology in the proposed research area as well as the context in which they will conduct research.  Moreover, research should be conducted by individuals who have been made aware of debates and issues in research ethics.

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