Policies and Procedures

Ursinus College is committed to safeguarding the welfare, rights, and privacy of all persons who participate as subjects in research projects conducted under its auspices, and to ensuring that the subjects of such research are aware of their rights and the protections available to them.

Standard Operating Procedures


Moreover, the College is required to assure the federal government that such safeguards are being provided and enforced. These safeguards derive from the following ethical principles, which were first articulated in the Belmont Report issued by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1979:

Respect for persons:

Recognition of the personal dignity and autonomy of individuals and special protection of those persons with diminished autonomy or particular vulnerabilities, including prisoners, children, those who are mentally or cognitively disabled, pregnant women, or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons. Human subjects should enter into research voluntarily and with adequate information.


The obligation to protect persons from harm by maximizing anticipated benefits and minimizing possible risks. Possible risks to human subjects should be weighed against possible benefits to the subjects, and the possible advancement of knowledge. 


Fairness in the distribution of research benefits and burdens. In selecting human subjects for research, investigators should ensure that no group of participants is either consistently selected to participate in research, or consistently deprived of the opportunity to do so.

Comment on this Policy

The goal of this policy is to allow for the conduct of responsible research involving human subjects, and to protect the health and welfare of those individuals who are subject to such research. 

While this Policy covers all research on human subjects and intends to safeguard those subjects’ rights, researchers themselves also bear responsibility for safeguarding those rights. Thus, they should adhere to the following Statement of Principles and Ethics. 


Compliance with Law, Standards, and College Policy:

Researchers plan and conduct research with human participants in a manner consistent with federal and state law and regulations, as well as professional disciplinary standards governing the conduct of research. As required by this Policy, researchers obtain institutional approval prior to conducting research.

Informed Consent to Participate:

Prior to conducting research (except research involving only anonymous surveys, naturalistic observations, or similar research), researchers enter into an agreement with participants that clarifies the nature of the research. Researchers inform participants of all features of the research that might influence their willingness to participate. Further, researchers respect each participant’s freedom to decline to participate in research or discontinue participation at any time for any reason and without penalty.

Minimization of Invasiveness and Harm:

Researchers protect participants from physical and mental discomfort, harm, and danger. Risks to participants are minimized and explained to the participant before she or he agrees to participate. If the research procedure has undesirable effects on participants, the researcher should remedy these effects.

Deception in Research:

 Researchers do not conduct an investigation involving deception unless they have determined that the use of deceptive techniques is justified by the prospective scientific or educational value and that equally effective alternative procedures that do not use deception are not feasible.

Confidentiality and Privacy:

 All personally identifiable information obtained from participants is confidential. When the possibility exists that others may obtain this information, researchers inform participants of this before they consent to participate. All information and data are handled, stored, and discarded in a manner that insures the confidentiality of each participant.