Ethical analysis of research partnerships with communities

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2008 Mar;18(1):57-85. doi: 10.1353/ken.0.0000.


Community-researcher partnerships constitute one of the most important recent developments in biomedical ethics. The partnerships protect vulnerable communities within which research is conducted and help ensure that the communities benefit from the research. At the same time, they embody deep, core values about the social nature of persons and the value of community that significantly modify the radical individualism too often associated with the prevailing concepts of autonomy and respect for persons. This article examines the burgeoning literature on community-researcher partnerships to identify the main ways of thinking ethically about the obligations of investigators and the roles and rights of communities in scientific research. The paper helps to uncover the deep commonalities and differences that mark the current debate in this emerging arena of research ethics, a debate over the social nature of persons that is beginning to influence the understanding of other bioethical issues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bioethical Issues
  • Community Participation*
  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Humans
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Researcher-Subject Relations*
  • Social Justice
  • Social Values
  • United States