An Intro to the 7 Guidelines for Ethical Research
  • 5-minute read
  • 24th April 2023

An Intro to the 7 Guidelines for Ethical Research

If you’re conducting research, perhaps for publication in a journal or as part of your studies, you may have heard of the seven guidelines for ethical research. It’s a set of rules and standards to follow to ensure that your research is beneficial and ethical.

If you want your research to be respected as a valuable contribution to your field, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these guidelines and make sure you’re following them. But what are they? In today’s post, we’ll give an overview of each one.

1. Social and Clinical Value

The point of any research is to answer a question or fill a knowledge gap. Conducting research often involves help from participants, whether they’re simply answering questions in a survey or taking part in a clinical trial.

No matter what’s involved, you’re asking those participants to sacrifice or risk something. This could be the inconvenience of giving their time (which could be spent doing something valuable to them), or the potential harm done to them by being part of an experiment.

The social value of clinical research means that the benefit resulting from your research must justify any harm done. Your research is designed to answer a question, and that answer – whatever it may be – should be worth the risk or inconvenience to those involved.

2. Scientific Validity

Scientific validity means that your research must be conducted in a way that will produce understandable and accurate results. To set your research up for success, ask yourself these questions:

·  Is the question I’m researching answerable?

·  Are the research methods feasible?

·  Is there a clear objective?

·  Are the materials, practices, and methods reliable and accepted in the field?

·  Do I have the means to sufficiently test the objective?

3. Fair Subject Selection

This ethical guideline includes consideration of the following factors:

·  First, your participants should be chosen based on the goals of the study. Which subjects are most relevant for the study? People shouldn’t be chosen or excluded based on things like gender, race, economic status, or religion unless it’s directly related to your study.

·  Second, the subjects should each experience similar levels of risk and benefit from your study. Your participants should be people that stand to benefit from the research question, and they should all share a relatively equal amount of risk or sacrifice by participating.

4. Favorable Risk–Benefit Ratio

A favorable ratio means that the risks must be outweighed by the benefits. With any study, the level of potential harm it could do and the benefits it could produce will be uncertain at first. But there are some things you can do to establish a favorable risk–benefit ratio.

·  You can minimize the amount of risk and harm as much as possible, such as by taking ample precautions, ensuring confidentiality, and increasing safety for all the factors you can control.

·  You can maximize the different ways your research will help people.

·  You can offer additional incentives to anyone who participates, such as money or free services.

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5. Independent Review

This guideline means that an outside party should review your study before you conduct it. They should have no personal interest in the study, which will allow them to objectively analyze it for potential biases, risks, and feasibility.

Usually, this evaluation will be carried out by the agency you’re hoping to publish with or an institutional review board. They’ll also monitor your research while you’re conducting it.

6. Informed Consent

Of course, your participants need to consent to being part of your study. But this involves more than just agreeing to participate. Informed consent means that they’re given all the details about what will be required of them, what methods you’re using, and the potential risks and benefits.

7. Respect for Potential and Enrolled Subjects

Showing respect for everyone involved in your study means:

·  Respecting their privacy

·  Ensuring confidentiality

·  Giving them the option to change their mind or withdraw at any time

·  Keeping them informed of updates, changes, and results

·  Monitoring their wellbeing throughout the study

·  Following through on any promised incentives

This respect should be shown throughout the participant’s entire interaction with you and your research.


To sum up, the seven guidelines for ethical research are social and clinical value, scientific validity, fair subject selection, favorable risk–benefit ratio, independent review, informed consent, and respect for potential and enrolled subjects.

Following those guidelines is crucial, as they ensure your research will be accepted, effective, and ethical. Once you get your research paper written, be sure to send it our way! Our editors will check it for spelling, grammar, consistency, referencing, and more. Try it out for free today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are ethical guidelines important in research?

It’s crucial to follow ethical guidelines while conducting research because they protect participants’ rights and wellbeing and the integrity of the research.

What is the key to ethical research?

The benefits produced by research must outweigh any potential risk or harm.


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