The measures by which researchers, review bodies and institutions can demonstrate that their responsibilities have been, or are being, fulfilled. Typical accountability measures involve reporting from one level of the hierarchy to a higher (or more general) level.

adverse device event

A clinical sign, symptom or condition that is causally related  to the device implantation procedure, the presence of the device, or the performance of the device system.

adverse drug reaction

Any noxious and unintended response to an unapproved medicinal product, related to any dose. The phrase “response to an unapproved medicinal product” means that a causal relationship between the product and an adverse event is at least a reasonable possibility, i.e. the relationship cannot be ruled out. (‘Unapproved medicinal product’ here includes approved products used at levels or in ways that are unapproved).


A noxious and unintended response to a drug that occurs at doses of marketed medical products normally used in humans for prophylaxis, diagnosis or therapy of diseases or for modification of physiological function.

adverse event (device)

Any undesirable clinical occurrence in a subject, whether it is considered to be device-related or not, that includes a clinical sign, symptom or condition and/or an observation of an unintended technical performance or performance outcome of the device.


Doing good to others: here also includes ‘non-maleficence’, avoiding doing harm.


That which positively affects the interests or welfare of an individual or group.

blood relatives

Close genetic relatives.

capitation payments

Per capita payments to researchers, usually from sponsors of clinical trials, for recruiting participants for research.

cell line

A term used by scientists to describe cells grown in the laboratory over an extended period. Cell lines can be created from many different types of tissues and include those that will only grow for a limited period of time as well as those that may become ‘immortal’ through alteration of their genomes either through mutations arising naturally or induced artificially. Cell lines usually comprise a stable population of cells, although some heterogeneity is generally present and changes in the characteristics of the cells may occur over time.


Subject to law in the relevant jurisdiction, a minor who lacks the maturity to make a decision whether or not to participate in research.
See also
young  person

clinical trial

A form of research designed to find out the effects of an intervention, including a treatment or diagnostic procedure.


A collection of individuals, which may extend from the whole population to a smaller grouping associated by cultural, ethnic, geographical, social or political factors or some other commonality.


The obligation of people not to use private information – whether private because of its content or the context of its communication – for any purpose other than that for which it was given to them

conflict of interest

In the research context: where a person’s individual interests or responsibilities have the potential to influence the carrying out of his or her institutional role or professional obligations in research; or where an institution’s interests or responsibilities have the potential to influence the carrying out of its research obligations.


A person’s or group’s agreement, based on adequate knowledge and understanding of relevant material, to participate in research.


Pieces of information.


A systematic collection of data, whether individually identifiable, re-identifiable or non-identifiable.


Where relevant material is withheld  from research participants and/or they are intentionally misled about procedures and/or purposes of research.


A negative accompaniment or effect of research, less serious than harm.

ethical / unethical

Right or morally acceptable / wrong or morally unacceptable.

ethical review

Review of research by an HREC or other body.

ethical review body

Body set up to carry out ethical review of human research.

genetic material

Any source of DNA or RNA that can be tested to obtain genetic information. It includes cells (whether isolated  or as part of tissues) and extracted DNA and RNA.


That which adversely affects the interests or welfare of an individual or a group. Harm includes physical harm, anxiety, pain, psychological disturbance, devaluation of personal worth and social disadvantage.


Human Research Ethics Committee.

human tissue

The substance, structure, and texture of human organs or body parts when separated from human beings; includes blood, blood components and waste products.


Details attached to data, such as name and/or contact information, that identify an individual. (It may remain possible to identify an individual even after all identifiers have been removed, if a code number has been assigned and there is access to the code, or if the data or tissue can be cross-linked to other data or tissue banks).


A minor negative accompaniment or effect of research, less serious than discomfort.

individually identifiable data

Data from which the identity of a specific individual can reasonably be ascertained.


Honesty and probity as qualities of character and behaviour.


Regard for the human sameness shared by all human beings, expressed in a concern for fairness or equity. Includes three aspects of justice: procedural justice, involving fair methods of making decisions and settling disputes; distributive justice, involving fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of society; and corrective  justice, involving correcting wrongs and harms through compensation or retribution.

limited disclosure

Not disclosing to research participants all of the aims and/or methods of the research.

low risk (research)

Research in which the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort.

monitoring (of research)

The process of verifying that the conduct of research conforms to the approved proposal.

negligible risk

Research in which there is no foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort, and any foreseeable risk is of inconvenience only.

non-identifiable data

Data that have never been labelled with individual identifiers or from which identifiers have been permanently removed, and by means of which no specific individual can be identified. A subset of non-identifiable data are those that can be linked with other data so it can be known they are about the same data subject, although the person’s identity remains unknown.

non-therapeutic (intervention)

An intervention  not directed  towards the benefit of the individual  but rather towards  improving  scientific knowledge or technical application, or the benefit of others.

opt-out approach

A method used in the recruitment of participants into research where information is provided to the potential participant regarding the research and their involvement and where their participation is presumed unless they take action to decline to participate.

participant (in research)

Anyone who is the subject of research in any of the ways set out in Purpose, scope and limits of this document.

personal information

Information by which individuals can be identified.

placebo (in research)

A substance not containing an active agent under study, administered to some participants to compare the effects of the active agent administered to other participants.


A domain within which individuals and groups are entitled to be free from the scrutiny of others.


A document that provides the background, rationale and objectives of the research and describes its design, methodology, organisation and the conditions under which it is to be performed and managed.

qualitative research

Research involving the studied use of empirical materials such as case studies, personal experience, life stories, interviews, observations, and cultural texts.

re-identifiable data

Data from which identifiers have been removed and replaced by a code, but it remains possible to re-identify a specific individual by, for example, using the code or linking different data sets.


Includes at least investigation undertaken to gain knowledge and understanding or to train researchers.

research misconduct

Includes fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in proposing, carrying out or reporting  the results of research, and failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest. Also includes failure to follow research proposals approved by a research ethics committee, particularly where this failure may result
in unreasonable risk or harm to humans, other animals or the environment. Also includes the wilful concealment or facilitation of research misconduct by others.

respect for human beings

Recognition that each human being has value in himself or herself.


The function of the magnitude of a harm and the probability that it will occur.

serious adverse event

Any untoward medical occurrence that:

  • results in death;
  • is life-threatening (NOTE: The term “life-threatening” refers to an event/reaction in which the patient was at risk of death  at the time of the event/reaction; it does not refer to an event/reaction which hypothetically might have caused death if it were more severe);
  • requires inpatient hospitalisation or prolongation of existing hospitalisation;
  • results in persistent or significant disability/incapacity;
  • is a congenital anomaly/birth defect;


  • is a medically important event or reaction.

serious unexpected suspected adverse reaction

A serious adverse event (see definition above) for which there is some degree of probability that the event is an adverse reaction to the administered drug, and the adverse reaction is unexpected.


An individual, company, institution or organisation that takes responsibility for the initiation, management, and/or financing of research.

therapeutic (intervention)

Intervention directed towards the wellbeing of the individual concerned.

unexpected adverse drug reaction

An adverse reaction, the nature or severity of which is not consistent with the applicable scientific information (e.g. Investigator’s Brochure for an unapproved investigational product or Product Information (PI) document or similar for an approved, marketed product).

voluntary participation

Participation that is free of coercion and pressure.

young person

In the context of this National Statement, a minor who (subject to the law in the relevant jurisdiction) may have the maturity to make a decision whether or not to participate in research.
See also