Participation in research—especially where it involves sensitive or traumatic subjects—can pose a risk to those involved. Ethical standards for victim service providers state that “The victim assistance provider recognizes the interests of the person served as a primary responsibility.” Victim Services Ethical Standard 3.2.
This standard applies in research and evaluation activities as well as service provision. The research profession also stresses the protection of participants, or “human subjects.” Our Quick Guide: Protecting Victims in Research provides an introduction to victim protection, with tips for incorporating trauma-informed practices in research activities. Below you will find additional resources that address protection during research and that can help you ensure safety for victims and survivors.
Tools and Tips
Guide to Protecting Human Subjects, 2010 (OVCTTAC). This technical assistance guide covers the law related to protecting human subjects, Institutional Review Boards and how to involve them in research, and key issues to address when conducting research that involves human subjects.
Evaluation Issue Brief: How Do We Attend to Safety, Confidentiality and Diversity? (National Resource Center on Domestic Violence) This brief addresses three key issues: protecting the confidentiality and safety of participating victims/survivors, being respectful when gathering and using information, and addressing issues of diversity in an evaluation plan. It is part of a series of briefs guiding domestic violence programs through outcome evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Institutional Review Boards. (American Psychological Association). This FAQ provides a good summary of the purpose and workings of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) in protecting research participants.
CVR Quick Guide: Protecting Victims in Research, 2018 (Center for Victim Research). This two-page overview provides an introduction to victim protection, with tips for incorporating trauma-informed practices in research activities.
As a public service, the NIH Office of Extramural Research offers a free tutorial on Protecting Human Research Participants that institutions may elect to use to fulfill requirement for education in the protection of human subjects. A Spanish language version is also available: Protección de los participantes humanos de la investigación.