Human Subjects Research

Update on the Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections

October 26, 2011 – Following a period of consultation, the APSA’s Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms submitted a comment reflecting the views and concerns of members and political scientists. You can read a copy of the submitted comment here.

The American Political Science Association also signed on to the Consortium of Social Science Associations' white paper on the ANPRM. You can download a copy of the white paper here.

The Ethics Committee will continue to monitor developments on the proposed rule changes and keep members informed. Those interested in further information or who have additional queries are also welcome to contact APSA Fellow and Associate Director Betsy Super, at [email protected].


September 28, 2011 - The protection of human research subjects is again on the agenda of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). On July 25, the Federal Government published advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register regarding the Common Rule that governs human subject research. The changes are intended to strengthen regulatory protection for human research subjects. Also read: the HHS news release announcing the possible changes and a summary of the ANPRM.

The American Political Science Association will be working with the Consortium of Social Science Associations on a white paper which speaks to the particular concerns of social and political scientists regarding human subjects research and the proposed changes. The APSA Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms is currently reviewing the ANPRM as part of this process.


Excerpt from APSA's Guidelines for Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms

"H. Principles Governing Research on Human Subjects

34. The methodology of political science includes procedures which involve human subjects: surveys and interviews, observation of public behavior, experiments, physiological testing, and examination of documents. Possible risk to human subjects is something that political scientists should take into account. Under certain conditions, political scientists are also legally required to assess the risks to human subjects.

34.1 A common Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects became effective on August 19, 1991, adopted by 15 major federal departments and agencies including the National Science Foundation (45 CFR Part 690) and the Department of Health and Human Services (45 CFR Part 46). The Policy has been promulgated concurrently by regulation in each department and agency. While the federal policy applies only to research subject to regulation by the federal departments and agencies involved, universities can be expected to extend the policy to all research involving human subjects. "

View the full text of the APSA Guide on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms.

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