Core Commitments

Across the University, we are carrying out a plan to strengthen our human research protections and cultivate a culture of research ethics. These Core Commitments represent our shared responsibility to protect research participants, uphold the highest ethical standards, and improve our practice at every step.

Statement of Core Commitments

The University of Minnesota community strives to meet the highest ethical standards in the planning and conduct of research.

The University holds each individual involved in research with human participants accountable for adherence to these standards. Essential to the research enterprise is preserving the trust of research participants. Each researcher has a duty to maintain that trust and to protect participant well-being. Individuals who make the gift of consenting to volunteer as research participants trust us to protect them from harm and to respect their freely given, informed consent to participate in research. Research participants retain the right to decline to continue participation in a research study for any reason, including as new data, side effects, or unexpected circumstances occur during the course of the study. We bear special responsibilities toward those persons whose capacity to consent to research is impaired or fluctuates during participation in a study.

All involved in conducting research must ensure that research is conducted ethically and in compliance with University policies and procedures.

Any action that violates the trust of potential or enrolled research participants harms the entire research enterprise.

University leaders and all involved in research with human participants have the responsibility to:

  • Ensure that all faculty, staff, and others who oversee and/or conduct University research on human beings have taken the appropriate ethics training.
  • Protect and promote the rights and interests of all research participants, including those who are vulnerable, who may be susceptible to coerced consent, or who lack (or may come to lack) the capacity to consent to or decline continued participation in research.
  • Comply with the letter and be committed to the spirit of the laws, regulations, and policies that pertain to the treatment of patients and of participants who are enrolled in research studies.
  • Be transparent and accountable in all research activities. Anyone who observes a breach of the ethical rules, laws, or regulations that govern the conduct of research involving human participants should report his or her observations. Individuals can report without fear of retaliation and with confidence that their concerns will be promptly considered and fully addressed.
  • Ensure that identified individual and institutional conflicts of interest that potentially undermine the well-being of research participants will be effectively managed.
  • Sustain a culture of respect and engagement at the UMN that recognizes the importance of integrity in University-based research. Sustaining that commitment requires respect for participants, their families, and community, as well as regard for cultural diversity and attention to the societal implications of research.
  • Effectively engage in a dialogue with the broader community, which has a stake in benefiting from research involving human participants and an interest in protecting loved ones who may participate in these studies.

The Statement of Core Commitments was developed by the Advancing Human Research Protections work team on Cultivating a Culture of Ethics in consultation with faculty, staff, and University leadership (June 2016).