European Textbook on Ethics in Research

Published by the European Commission Directorate-General for Research in Brussels, the European Textbook on Ethics in Research was written primarily by members of the European Commission to the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele University (also known as PEAK).

The first chapter introduces a range of philosophical perspectives and concepts. References to the major religions and their beliefs are included throughout the text but without endorsing or rejecting any particular view. The text does not focus on existing ethic laws with regards to biomedical and human life sciences, new technologies or the social sciences.

The text hopes that it will, “equip students to recognise ethical problems and apply the principles in relation to other kinds of research that they might encounter either in their own work or as members of research ethics committees.”

21 case studies make up the core of this textbook. They are designed to motivate students to consider those who support and those who are against the described research project. Where I think European Textbook on Ethics in Research can really assist any student studying ethics is the extensive discussion sections that accompany each case study. The points raised help students consider the strength of competing arguments, look beyond the potential good that could come from the research and evaluate possible compromise positions. Plus, I think any of them would be a great basis for a term paper.

While this text does have a decidedly Euro-centric foundation, English-speaking students in any country will definitely find value in this text.

Table of Contents for European Textbook on Ethics in Research

Case Study 4.1: Observational research in an Accident and Emergency Department

Case Study 1.1: Testing of artificial blood product.

Chapter 2: Consent

Case Study 2.1: Spaceflight simulation study on healthy female volunteers.

Case Study 2.2: Police and rescue research using cadavers

Case Study 2.3: Covert surveillance of health care professionals

Chapter 3: Vulnerable and non-competent subjects

Case Study 3.1: Research involving adults with terminal illness

Case Study 3.2: Research into the role of carers for Alzheimer’s patients

Case Study 3.3: Research into treatments for behavioural disorders in children.

Chapter 4: Privacy and confidentiality

Case Study 4.1: Observational research in an Accident and Emergency Department

Case Study 4.2: Genetic research into susceptibility to respiratory disease in smoky environments

Chapter 5: Balancing harms and benefits: the case of randomized controlled trials

Case Study 5.1: Randomised placebo-controlled trial to investigate surgical treatments for Parkinson’s disease

Chapter 6: Justice in research

Case Study 6.1: Recruiting homeless participants to Phase 1 trials

Case Study 6.2: Tuberculosis vaccine research in a developing country

Case Study 6.3: Nicotine replacement therapy for pregnant smokers

Chapter 7: Science and society

Case Study 7.1: Enzyme replacement therapy for Pompe’s disease

Case Study 7.2: International research on the diagnosis and treatment of malaria

Case Study 7.3: Research on a ‘trust’ drug

Case Study 7.4: Pharmacogenetics research

Chapter 8: Ethical issues in the new biotechnologies

Case Study 8.1: Germ-line gene therapy

Case Study 8.2: Research into cochlear implants

Case Study 8.3: Research using gold nanoparticles


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European Textbook on Ethics in Research

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