Human Subjects Protection and Research on Terrorism and Conflict

Published in: Science, v. 340, no. 6131, 26 Apr. 2013, p. 434-435

Posted on RAND.org on April 01, 2013

by Brian A. Jackson, Tora K. Bikson, Patrick P. Gunn

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The last decade has seen considerable expansion in research on terrorism and conflict. People have studied root causes, group behavior, and different approaches to counter such acts. When research involves human subjects, regulations require investigators and Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) charged with protecting human subjects of research to address concerns about individual risk and benefit. Questions of justice and beneficence—core elements of the ethical principles underlying the contemporary system for protecting subjects—can be problematic where one party in a conflict is studying another. The authors discuss how current legal developments raise complications and may limit the ability of researchers to work on terrorism and conflict topics.

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