The Nuremberg Code (from Katz, J., (1972). Experimentation with human beings. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.) has been introduced in Nuremberg in 1947, after discovering a number of atrocities and other crimes that happened during the WWII. This code is thought to be one of the bases of the today’s ethical standards in psychological as well as the medical research.The idea of this code is very similar to the Helsinki Declaration (www.wma.net). The point for all the ethical guidelines we need to follow is to reduce the risk to participants. Development of ethical guidelines was essential especially after the horrible experiments carried out during the WWII. There are also more recent experiments which show the extremes of the researcher’s carelessness such as the Stamford Prison experiment carried out by Zimbardo.
This code contains 10 points and I’m going to describe them briefly here.
1. Inform consent needs to be obtained from each participant. Therefore all participants should have legal capacity to give consent (must be 18 years of age or above) and seen capable of making decisions for themselves.
2. Research should not be random and unnecessary and should be beneficial.
3. An experiment should be designed on the basis of the results of previous animal studies, as well as the knowledge of the field, so that any problems can be anticipated in advance.
4. An experiment should be designed to so that the participants can avoid being physically or mentally injured.
5. If there is a prior study risk of death or a disabling injury the testing cannot be conducted.
6. The magnitude of risk shall never exceed the humanitarian importance of the problem the experiment seeks to solve.
7. Adequate preparation for the experiment should be made in order to protect the participants from possibility of injury, death or disability.
8. Highest care must be taken of the participants during experiments, and experimenters should always be scientifically qualified to test participants.
9. The participants should be aware of the fact that they can withdraw from the experiment when they feel the continuation is impossible.
10. The experimenter during any study must be prepared to end the study when they professionally judge that continuation could lead the participants to an injury or even death.
All these relate to the 5 principles of ethics: Beneficence and non-malificence, fidelity and integrity, justice, respect for other’s rights and dignity.
So in summary the Nuremberg Code is the basis of today’s ethical guidelines. It has been introduced after crimes that some researchers committed (thinking they could get away without taking any consequences). I truly believe that ethical guidelines are absolutely necessary; otherwise no one would participate in experiments these days knowing what happen in the past.
Thanks for spending your time reading my blog.