- The Nature of Scientific Research
- Designing Service-Learning Research
- Measurement in Service-Learning Research
- Ethical Issues in Service-Learning Research
- Data Analysis and Interpretation
- Dissemination of Research Results
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The Belmont Report lists three major ethical principles: Respect for Persons, Beneficence, and Justice (The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979). Beauchamp and Childress (2001) expand upon the Belmont Report’s principles by identifying four guiding ethical principles—Respect for Autonomy, Nonmaleficence, Beneficence, and Justice.
Respect for autonomy is further defined as having "respect for the autonomous choices of persons" (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001, p. 57). This principle asserts that each person should be regarded as an autonomous being; thus they should be allowed to make their own, rational decisions whenever possible. Researchers must give subjects an opportunity for informed consent, indicating that they understand the nature and purpose of a study, the potential risks and benefits, and that they agree to participate in the study.
Nonmaleficence is known as the "norm of avoiding the causation of harm" (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001, p. 12). For example, a researcher must not harm any subject involved in a research study. This includes expectations of confidentiality for all data collected. In addition, human subjects must be given the opportunity to withdraw from a study at any time without penalty.
The principle of beneficence is "a group of norms for providing benefits and balancing benefits against risks and costs" (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001, p. 12). In other words, if a researcher were using humans as research subjects, the study must be of some benefit to the research participants, to science, or to society. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible for reviewing each research project to provide an independent judgment that the benefits are equal to, or outweigh, the potential risks to subjects.
Finally, the principle of justice is defined as "a group of norms for distributing benefits, risks, and costs fairly" (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001, p. 12). An example of justice is recruitment of subjects fairly from a population, with each person having an equal opportunity to be involved in a study.