New Methods in Human Subjects Research: Do We Need a New Ethics?

15 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2009

See all articles by Karsten Weber

Karsten Weber

Institute for Social Research and Technology Assessment; BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg

Date Written: March 2009

Abstract

Online surveys and interviews, the observations of chat rooms or online games, data mining, knowledge discovery in databases (KDD), collecting biomarkers, employing biometrics, using RFID technology - even as implants in the human body - and other related processes all seem to be more promising, cheaper, faster, and comprehensive than conventional methods of human subjects research. But at the same time these new means of gathering information may pose powerful threats to privacy, autonomy, and informed consent. Online research, particularly involving children and minors but also other vulnerable groups such as ethnic or religious minorities, is in urgent need of an adequate research ethics that can provide reasonable and morally justified constraints for human subjects research. The paper at hand seeks to provide some clarification of these new means of information gathering and the challenges they present to moral concepts like privacy, autonomy, informed consent, beneficence, and justice. Some existing codes of conduct and ethical guidelines are examined to determine whether they provide answers to those challenges and/or whether they can be helpful in the development of principles and regulations governing human subjects research. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations are presented that can help in the task of formulating an adequate research ethics for human subjects research.

Keywords: Human Subjects Research, Online Research, Biomarkers, Biometrics, Autonomy, Privacy, Informed Consent, Research Ethics

Suggested Citation

Weber, Karsten, New Methods in Human Subjects Research: Do We Need a New Ethics? (March 2009). RatSWD Working Paper No. 80. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1452620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1452620

Karsten Weber (Contact Author)

Institute for Social Research and Technology Assessment ( email )

Galgenbergstr
Regensburg

BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg ( email )

Cottbus, 03013
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
135
rank
205,462
Abstract Views
809
PlumX Metrics