This principle is generally described in relation to equity: a fair process for recruitment of research participants; no unfair burden of participation on particular groups; and fair distribution of and access to the benefits of participation in research. Justice also takes in the recognition that there should be no exploitation of participants in the conduct of research, and instead, active protection of participant wellbeing.

In developing countries this principle involves treating all participants with dignity, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, ability, religion and culture, and requires researcher cognisance of existing power relations, so that broader principles of human rights and addressing injustice can be upheld. It also involves ensuring that all relevant social groups are actively included in the research and that attempts are made to avoid further marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion of under-represented social groups. Finally, justice requires making findings accessible to participants in a timely, clear manner and in a format that is meaningful for participants.

In practice, the principle of Justice can be broken down into three concepts:

Considerations for Vulnerable Groups

Research involving vulnerable groups requires additional ethical considerations to be applied.

Equitable Selection

Participants in the research should be selected equitably with no individual, community or vulnerable group excluded without valid reason.

Dissemination of Research

The outcomes of the research must be shared with research participants in a way that is meaningful for their specific context or scenario.

Justice: Self-assessment Checklist

This checklist will help you to identify areas where you may require further work or preparation in your research process in applying the principle of Justice.

Justice: Self-assessment Checklist
Research Design
Does your research involve input from research partners and participants from various groups? Do you know who they are and what their needs are?
Has adequate information, training or education been provided prior to the research?
Have you planned what information about the research will be provided to the participants?
Does your recruitment plan ensure inclusion and representation of people from vulnerable or marginalised backgrounds?
Is there a strategy in place to manage the power dynamic between researcher(s) and research participants?
Analysis and Reporting
Will the research findings be made available in a format that is meaningful and useful for participants?
Dissemination and use
How will you ensure that information is appropriately fed back to those who participated in the research, at an individual and community level?

You can also download a copy of the Self-assessment Checklist [PDF].

Once you have completed the checklist, refer back to the tools and information provided above, as well as the Principles and Guidelines, to help fill any identified gaps.

You can find further assistance via the Training Module and Further Resources page.