Human research is a systematic, rigorous investigation designed to gather valuable information with the intention to increase our current understanding of mankind and the world around us.
You may be solicited to become a research participant in all phases of your life, whether you are healthy or have a speciﬁc health condition, or because you belong to a particular group of individuals. The level of your participation in a research study may vary between research studies; some research procedures may be invasive (i.e. requires a puncture, an incision or administration of a product in the body), while others may only require the completion of a questionnaire or access to your medical records.
Various types of information are gathered from research studies such as information related to the functioning of the human body, the eﬀects of a new medication on individuals, individuals’ behaviours, opinions, preferences, life styles and conditions. Researchers must ensure that human research meets high scientiﬁc and ethical standards. And because research entails risks, researchers must ensure that these risks are minimized and your rights as a research participant are protected and respected.
As a research participant, you are directly involved in the research process. You are as important to the research process as the researcher, the sponsor of the research, and the research ethics board.
The research ethics board, also known as the REB or IRB, is an independent, multidisciplinary group of men and women with various levels of expertise depending on the type of research being studied. For example, the research ethics board may have individuals who have extensive knowledge of clinical research, medicine, pharmacology, biomedical sciences, psychology, anthropology, sociology, ethics, law, as well as those who represent your community.
The primary mandate of the research ethics board is the protection, safety and well-being of the individuals who participate in research studies under its supervision. It ensures the protection of research participants like you by reviewing and evaluating research studies prior to their initiation and throughout their process in order to ensure that the projects are ethically acceptable.
The research ethics board has the regulatory authority to approve, disapprove, require modiﬁcations to, as well as terminate or suspend approval of any proposed or ongoing research study under its jurisdiction if it considers that the research study would jeopardize the welfare and rights of its participants.