1. Individuals should be treated as autonomous agents.
Prospective research participants must be given the information they need to determine whether or not they want to participate in research. There should be no pressure to participate and ample time to decide. Respect for persons demands that participants enter into the research voluntarily and with adequate information. This is called informed consent, and will be covered in detail in other sections of this training.
A legally-effective, voluntary agreement that is given by a prospective research participant following comprehension and consideration of all relevant information pertinent to the decision to participate in a study.
2. Persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to additional protections.
Special provisions may need to be made when an individual's comprehension is severely limited or when a class of research participants is considered incapable of informed decision making (e.g. children, people with severe developmental disorders, or individuals suffering from dementias). Even for these persons, however, respect for persons requires giving them the opportunity to choose, to the extent they are able, whether or not they wish to participate in research activities. In some cases, respect for persons may require seeking the permission of other parties, such as a parent or legal guardian.