The Common Rule refers to a set of legal and ethical guidelines designed for protection of human subjects in research either funded by federal agencies or taking place in entities that receive federal research funding. The term Common Rule technically refers to all the regulations contained in Subpart A of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 46 (45 CFR 46). As applied to survey research, the most important elements of the Common Rule are those relating to oversight by an institutional review board and the requirements of informed consent and voluntary participation.


In the early 1970s, a number of high-profile cases of clearly unethical research made headlines and resulted in calls for congressional hearings. A few of the most striking examples include ...

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