Man standing with arms outstretched as if asking a question.

Research with human subjects can occasionally result in a dilemma for investigators. When the goals of the research are designed to make major contributions to a field, such as improving the understanding of a disease process or determining the efficacy of an intervention, investigators may perceive the outcomes of their studies to be more important than providing protections for individual participants in the research.

Although it is understandable to focus on goals, our society values the rights and welfare of individuals. It is not considered ethical behavior to use individuals solely as means to an end.

The importance of demonstrating respect for research participants is reflected in the principles used to define ethical research and the regulations, policies, and guidance that describe the implementation of those principles.