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Williams College operates a Human Research Protection Program to protect the rights and welfare of individuals who volunteer to participate in research. While the ultimate responsibility for the treatment of all human participants in research rests with the individual researcher (faculty, students, or staff) who has been given the privilege to conduct research with humans, the Institutional Review Boards exist as a safeguard to promote the ethical and responsible treatment of human participants in research.
College policy requires that all research that involves human participants, regardless of the source of financial support, must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it can be initiated. Guiding this review process by the IRB is the application of federal and state laws and various ethical principles, particularly those articulated in the Belmont Report: (1) Respect for Persons, (2) Beneficence, and (3) Justice.

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