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The term ethics addresses ideas of right and wrong and with moral duty and obligation. Research ethics address "rights" and "wrongs" surrounding research that uses human participants to find answers to scientific questions. The primary focus of ethics guidelines for research in humans is safeguarding the rights, dignity, and health of the trial participant.

Definitions of what constitutes ethical conduct in research have evolved and continue to change. Today, internationally recognized documents set ethical standards for research involving human participants. These guidelines were written in response to occurrences where humans had their rights violated in experiments. One notorious example is from World War II -- when the Nazi regime experimented on people held in concentration camps. Because of such incidents, many guidelines and laws have been put into the place both on international and local levels worldwide to set standards for how research must be conducted when it involves human beings.

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