Ethics terminology

Ethics terminology

Research: any form of disciplined enquiry that aims to contribute to a body of knowledge or theory.

Research ethics: the moral principles guiding research from its start through to completion and publication of results.

Research Ethics Committee (REC): a multidisciplinary, independent body responsible for reviewing research proposals involving human participants to ensure that their dignity, rights and welfare are protected.

Protocol: a filed document which specifies the procedures for recruiting participants and gathering and managing data. All project staff agree to comply with it.

Human participant: includes living human beings, human beings who have recently died, embryos and foetuses, human tissue and bodily fluids and human data and records (such as medical, genetic, and other records and test results including academic achievements).

Intervention: describes a number of actions that you may take. This means actions you take to, for, on or with the service user and it can include diagnostic or monitoring procedures, therapy or advice.

Participant: you should now refer to a person who serves as a data source for research as a participant. This recognises their active role and replaces the term subject. The extent of active participation in the research will vary from one project to another. The use of participant also acknowledges the autonomy of the individual in contributing to the research, and their right to withdraw at any time without penalty. In some research it is also relevant to acknowledge that a participant’s understanding of the experience they have while taking part in the research will often be a valuable additional source of information and may well help to enrich the interpretation of findings.
People other than the primary participants may be also need to be included in the consideration of the ethics of research. For example, parents, relatives, friends and colleagues may be affected by research, and the ethical conduct of research will often need to be informed by the interests of other stakeholders as well.

Service users: anyone who uses or is affected by a practitioner's services, for example your patients, clients, and their carers or relatives.

Student: anyone studying on a formal education and training programme. A student includes trainees or practitioners who are training. The word programme means these education and training programmes.

These pages have been adapted from the GCU code of good practice in research, the GCU research ethics booklet, the BPS code of human research ethics and the HPC guidance on conduct and ethics for students.