The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) Office of Research Integrity and Outreach is responsible for ensuring the protection of the rights, welfare, and well-being of participants involved in research studies conducted by UTD faculty, staff and students – per federal law and regulations.

One way this is accomplished is by having all research studies reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The IRB carefully reviews and monitors research to ensure that it is carried out legally and ethically.  Research studies involving human subjects cannot be started until the IRB has approved the study.

What Is Research?

When most people are asked about research, they think of scientific or medical research –and with good reason. But research takes other forms, too. Some studies use questionnaires, interviews, or other types of surveys to gather information about habits, opinions, and beliefs. Other studies observe the way people interact with one another or react to certain situations, providing new insights into human behavior. Many of these studies would not be possible without human participants.

Benefits and Risks

One way or another, all of us have benefited from research. The vaccines that help prevent diseases and the medications that help manage symptoms are just a few examples of scientific discoveries that resulted from research. Many of the psychological and social support services that we routinely provide to victims of trauma and disaster also were developed in response to research findings.

It’s important to note, however, that research is experimental, and that means it involves risk. The federal government requires researchers to inform participants about the risks involved – and to do everything possible to minimize those risks. Even so, risk can never be completely avoided.

Deciding to Participate

The decision to participate in a research study is a personal one. Certainly, it is helpful to discuss your options with researchers and your family, but ultimately the choice is yours.  There are a number of reasons why people choose to participate in research, but no matter what the reason, it is important that your decision not be made lightly.

Every Research Participant has the following rights:

  • To be treated with respect, including respect for your decision whether or not you wish to enroll in, continue in, or stop being in a study.
  • To choose to stop being in a study at any time.
  • To be given time to read the consent form and have the research study explained to you.
  • To be given time to ask questions, and to be told whom you can contact if you have any more questions.
  • To be given a copy of the consent form after you have signed it. 

Questions that you should ask before you agree to participate in a research study:

  • Why is the research being done?
  • What will be done to me as part of the research?
  • How will I benefit from the research?
  • Could the research hurt me?
  • What will the researcher do with my personal information or other data obtained through my participation in the study?
  • Will the research cost me anything?
  • How long will the study last?
  • What happens if I decide to leave the study early?

If you are a participant, you may contact the IRB Office with any questions or concerns.