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Stanford is committed to assuring that all of its research activities are conducted in a way that promotes the rights and welfare of its participants. This page provides useful information if you are considering participating in research, are currently involved in research, or want to find out more about research from the viewpoint of a participant. General information is provided on the conduct and oversight of research and the protection of human subjects.

The Office for Human Research Protections has information about research participation, including the following pamphlet to download:

About Research Participation (January 2017)
Becoming a Research Volunteer: It's Your Decision (pdf)
Folleto: Ser Voluntario en Estudios Clinicos: Es Su Decisión (pdf)

What is "research"?

Research is a study done to answer a question. Being a participant in a research study is not the same as getting treatment as a patient – there might be tests, medicines, or devices that you would not get if you were being treated as a patient. The study plan, called a protocol, describes all the steps and the timetable for the study. People considering being study participants are given information about the protocol and what to expect if they decide to participate in the research.

By taking part in a research study, you can also contribute to better understanding of how the treatment or intervention works in people of different ethnic backgrounds and genders. By taking part in a clinical trial, you can try a new treatment that may or may not be better than those already available.

Research on medical practices
This is a way to study what is taking place in medical settings like doctors’ offices and hospitals. Research on medical practices can happen in “real time,” as patients receive medical care. To learn more, visit the Stanford information page Research on Medical Practices (ROMP) and view the ROMP Videos.


Want to find out more about research at Stanford or interested in participating in research?

Clinical Trials explains some common terms and has some general information about clinical trials.

Clinical Trials Listings

  • Visit Stanford Patients & Community for information on clinical trials, and projects involving partnerships between researchers, doctors, students and community organizations.
  • For a listing of clinical trials being conducted at Stanford, visit Clinical Trials at Stanford.
  • For other clinical trials, visit clinicaltrials.gov.
  • Stanford researchers also advertise their studies via local advertisements, including radio ads, newspaper ads, and web based postings, such as craigslist.org. Some researchers also use subject pools, such as internal department pools (Graduate School of Business, Psychology) Knowledge Networks or Mechanical Turk.

Informed Consent Protects Research Participants

To help you decide if you want to be a research participant in a study, the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires informed consent, which means you are given information about the study before you agree to take part. Research participants should be informed about:

  • the purpose of the research
  • how long the study is expected to take
  • what will go on in the study and which parts of the study are experimental
  • possible risks or discomforts
  • possible benefits
  • the person to contact with questions about the study, your rights, and injuries related to research
  • the fact that being in the study is voluntary and you can quit at any time.

This information is generally provided in conversations with the researcher and in a written Consent Form. The Consent Form should be written so you can understand it. If you don't, be sure to ask the researcher, doctor, or other medical person to explain it. Make sure you understand all of the information in the consent form before you agree to be in the study.

Questions to Consider

Here are some questions to ask your doctor or researcher to help you decide if you want to take part in a research study, including clinical trials: 

  • How do I qualify for the study?
  • What is the study trying to find out?
  • How long will the study last?
  • What kinds of test and exams will I have to take while I'm in the study?
  • How much time do these take? What is involved in each test?
  • How often does the study require me to go to the doctor, laboratory or clinic?
  • What follow-up will there be?
  • What will happen at the end of the study?

NIH website for participants
The National Institutes of Health has created a website, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn more about clinical trials, why they matter and how to participate.

The Veterans Health Administration also offers information about veterans' participation in research. See Volunteering in Research.

Stanford University is a proud member of CISCRP's Circle of Supporters. CISCRP (The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation) is a nonprofit group dedicated to educating and informing the public, patients, medical/research communities, the media, and policy makers about clinical research participation.


Questions or concerns?

To speak with an informed individual who is unaffiliated with specific research call (866) 680-2906 for questions, concerns, or complaints about research, research related injury or questions about the rights of a research participant.

Please contact us at IRB Education with any comments and suggestions.



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