Public Health Research and Epidemiology

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Unit PHR1: Research Skills (part I)

Module Overview / Unit PHR1 / Session 2

Research Ethics, The Declaration of Helsinki and Good Clinical Practice

The objectives of this session are to:

  • Understand the societal and personal drivers (both positive and negative) of research
  • Understand the need for research ethics in the historical and current context
  • Summarise the over-arching principles and processes of research ethics
  • Discuss the (sometimes conflicting) needs of enabling high quality research while protecting the interests of participants and society-at-large.


Please watch the video lecture for this unit - Research Ethics, the Declaration of Helsinki and Good Clinical Practice


1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Please read The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum article on Dr Josef Mengele. You may wish to write your own notes.

Please read The CDC’s overview of the US Public Health Service’s Syphilis Study. You may wish to write your own notes.

Please read The Declaration of Helsinki. You may wish to write your own notes.

Please watch this report from BBC World News.

There is mounting evidence that some of the published scientific literature is fraudulent – yet only some of these papers are formally retracted, and often after a considerable period of time. What proportion of the established scientific literature is simply not true remains unclear.

In January 2014 a group of researchers from Japan published two papers in Nature that outlined a process to successfully re-programme mature mouse cells into their embryonic state. This would effectively mean that cells from an individual could be reconditioned to produce all sorts of other cells for that individual. The implications of such a finding for cell therapies are immense.

In the months since, other scientists have been unable to reproduce these findings and the scientist at the centre of the findings, Haruko Obokata has retracted both papers.

The journal Nature has since argued that peer review was not at fault.


Please listen to the following conclusion to this session.

Further resources

Find out more about recently retracted papers at Retraction Watch.

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