aivoAALTO — interdisciplinary research project of the Aalto University
Here are some ethical guidelines issued for psychological research by Psykologiliitto and Suomen psykologien seura 2006 (freely traslated from Finnish). They may not fully apply to brain research but there are some good pointers.
A) The researcher must respect the fundamental rights, dignity and value of all subjects participating in the study.
B) The research data should be collected, processed and stored in such a way that it will not compromise the subjects’ privacy nor trust toward the researcher.
C) All subjects must sign a written, voluntary and informed consent before participating in the study. It is the researcher's responsibility to ensure that the subjects are participating out of their own free will. A written consent is exceptionally not required for statistical surveys of public records, observing public gatherings etc.
D) The subjects are free to discontinue participating at any time during the study
E) After the study the researcher should offer to answer possible questions that might have risen during the study. Whenever possible, the subjects should be given the overall results of the study in an easily accessible format.
F) Animal studies should only be conducted after careful evaluation of whether the gain to science outweighs possible discomfort or stress to the animals, and if similar results cannot be acquired by alternative ways. When conducting research on animals the researcher must be familiar with the laws and regulations concerning this kind of research.
G) The research should follow what is considered good practice in science; this is a measure of qualification of the researcher in a given study.
H) Professionalism entails the ability to evaluate your own knowledge in relation to the demands of the task. This ability is also important for all forms of evaluation done within the field of research.
I) The researcher should actively seek to increase his/her knowledge within the field.
J) The researcher is aware of the responsibility that follows from research, i.e. in the relations to the participants, science community, financers and society. It is essential that the researcher bear in mind possible consequences of the research.
K) The researcher should take care that the issues being studied will enlighten and give valid information about human functioning and how to better quality of life.
L) The well-being of the subject is always the main priority in research. When planning a study, the researcher must carefully balance the benefits against possible negative scenarios. The researcher should also strive to minimize all risk factors.
M) The researcher acts honestly and righteously towards the science community and his/hers own profession. He/She will respect fellow-researchers and their right of ownership to their work. When supervising younger researchers the principal investigator does not take advantage of the dependency that forms between the two.
N) The researcher should participate in the public debate that may arise from the results of the study. When appearing in public the researcher does not only represent him or herself but also the science community and his/her profession. It is his/her responsibility to express views and report results in such a way that misunderstandings and misleading information is avoided.
O) The role of the researcher should be made clear to all parties in the study, be it subjects, colleagues or financers.