Who is responsible for checking to make sure a particular research project is allowed?

In the Netherlands there are strict rules for research involving human subjects. These are laid down in the Medical Research (Human Subjects) Act. The hospital or institution doing the research must ensure it is done safely. 

In addition, there are special committees that assess medical research projects before they start. They are called medical research ethics committees. A research project cannot start until the ethics committee has approved it. The ethics committee assesses the research proposal to make sure:

  • it is useful
  • it is well designed
  • the information given to human subjects is accurate
  • the risks are not excessive
  • it does not ask too much of the subjects.

The people on the ethics committee know a great deal about research. Some are doctors and others are experts on the laws and rules that apply to research. None of the committee members have a personal interest in the research. The information letter you received from the researcher will tell you which ethics committee assessed your research project.