Protecting Research Participants: Mandated & Federal Regulations

Protecting Research Participants: Mandated & Federal Regulations
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  • 0:07 Protection By Law
  • 0:29 Mandated Reporting
  • 1:39 Oversight
  • 3:57 Laws
  • 4:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

How are laws and federal regulations protecting research participants? This lesson explores some of the ways people are protected from each other, themselves, and researchers when they are participants in a study.

Protection by Law

Researchers cannot put their subjects in harm's way. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes the race to prove something outpaces the need to protect. This is the reason the government has stepped in and enacted certain laws and strictures to help ensure the participants are protected from the research as well as other sources of harm.

Mandated Reporting

Let's say you're a researcher examining the effects of emotions on study habits in young children. Your work involves interviewing children, and during one interview, a child admits that his parent hits him.

Psychological researchers are mandated reporters, which can be defined as individuals required to report to authorities abuse and neglect of vulnerable populations, as well as those in imminent danger. Vulnerable populations include children, elders, and dependent adults - basically any group that can't take care of themselves. Abuses can be physical, sexual, financial, and emotional.

Imminent danger is defined as immediate risk of harm. Often in psychology, this typically means suicidal or homicidal ideations. Ideations is a term used by psychologists as a way to encompass thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. The intention here is to protect those in danger. Research participants are varied and different, and in this wide net, researchers often find people who need protecting.


Each research project must be approved by the researcher's Institutional Review Board, which is tasked with reviewing accurate information about the research proposal to ensure they protect human and animal rights and that they fall in line with federal, state, local, and ethical guidelines.

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