Institutional Review Board

SCSU Ethical Principles for the Conduct of Research with Human Participants

Researchers are expected to take active measures to ensure that these ethical principles are followed throughout every project involving human participants:

Evaluation of Ethical Acceptability of Research Conducted under the Auspices of St. Cloud State University

  • Prior to conducting any study with human participants, the researcher is personally responsible for evaluating the study's ethical acceptability, taking into account these Principles.
  • All research investigations with human participants conducted by faculty members or graduate students are subject to peer review by the Institutional Review Board unless exempt under conditions set forth in the Federal policy on protection of human subjects.
  • Should any deviation from the Principles occur, the investigator incurs an increasingly serious obligation to seek ethical advice and observe more stringent safeguards.

Locus of Ethical Responsibility

  • Responsibility for establishment and maintenance of ethical practice in research always remains with the individual investigator.
  • The investigator is also responsible for ethical treatment and prevention of negligent treatment of research participants by collaborators, assistants, students and employees, all of whom incur parallel obligations.

Informed Consent

  • The informed consent document must be written in a way that is clear and easily understandable.
  • Participants must be informed of all features of the research that may influence their decisions to participate.
  • All aspects of the research about which the participants inquire must be explained to their satisfaction.
  • Failure to make full disclosure, based on methodological considerations, gives added emphasis to the investigator’s responsibility to protect the dignity and welfare of the participants.
  • If the research creates any risks of physical or mental discomfort, harm or danger, the investigator is required to inform participants of the risk and to secure consent before proceeding.
  • If any possibility exists that others may obtain access to any information about participants that has been gathered during the investigation, ethical research practice requires that this possibility, together with the plans for protecting confidentiality, be explained to participants as part of the procedure for obtaining informed consent.
  • If the participant is to be videotaped, photographed, or tape-recorded, this must be disclosed.  An explanation of who will have custody of and access to the resulting material, and how it will be used must be given to the participants.
  • Informed consent may not be necessary if archival data with no identifiers attached is used or data is drawn from public, observable behavior.

Openness and Honesty and the Right to Know: Debriefing

  • After an investigation that utilizes deception, the investigator is required to explain to participants all reasons for this action and to restore the quality of the relationship with the investigator.
  • After the data are collected, the investigator should provide participants with full clarification of the nature of the study and remove any misconceptions that may have arisen.
  • Where scientific or humane values justify delaying or withholding information, the investigator acquires special responsibility to assure that no damaging consequences to participants may occur.

Freedom From Coercion

  • The investigator must respect the participant’s freedom to decline participation or to discontinue participation at any time.
  • Freedom of the participant to deny answers to specific items or questions must be respected.
  • Special vigilance is required to ensure freedom from coercion whenever the investigator is in a position of power over the participant (e.g., coach and athlete, professor and student, caregiver and client).
  • Any decision to limit freedom from coercion increases the investigator’s responsibility to protect the participant’s dignity and welfare.

Clear and Fair Agreement Between Investigator and Participant

  • Ethically acceptable research begins with establishment of a clear and fair agreement between investigator and participant that clarifies the responsibilities of each.
  • The investigator has the obligation to honor all promises and commitments included in this agreement.

Freedom From Harm

  • The ethical investigator protects participants from physical and mental discomfort, harm and danger whenever possible.
  • A research procedure may not be used if it is likely to cause serious and lasting harm to participants (e.g., health problems).

Removal of Undesirable Consequences

  • Where research procedures result in undesirable consequences for the participant, the investigator has the responsibility to detect and remove or correct these consequences, including long-term aftereffects.


  • Confidentiality must be respected.  If standards of confidentiality are guaranteed to participants, these standards must be met.

The above statements have been adapted by the Institutional Review Board from the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association and the American College of Sports Medicine and approved by the Faculty Association, the Student Senate and St. Cloud State University. In September 1993, the Institutional Review Board clarified this statement and the associated application and concluded that it satisfies the Federal policy for protection of human subjects known as the "Common Rule" as described in Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46 as revised June 18, 1991.