IRB: Ethics & Human Research

A Global Public Incentive Database for Human Subjects Research

Ethical review of the use of incentives in recruiting research participants appears haphazard across U.S. institutions, and little is known about comparable practices at institutions outside the United States. Ethics committees and principle investigators alike have few sources of information to consult as reference points for the types and amounts of incentives offered by researchers. This commentary proposes developing a global public incentive database that would serve as an open venue for investigators to voluntarily record the types and amounts of incentives they offered to research participants. The database would have two major categories of ethically salient parameters: features of the index research protocol, and features of the research setting. The existence of the database could eventually support the design and conduct of systematic empirical studies about the use of incentives in human subjects research.

Key words/concepts: human subjects research, research ethics, incentives to research participants, payment to research participants, research incentive database, institutional review boards

Brandon Brown and Maria W. Merritt, “A Global Public Incentive Database for Human Subjects Research,” IRB: Ethics & Human Research 35, no. 2 (2013): 14-17.

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