This paper describes the history of the development of modern research ethics. The governance of research ethics varies according to geographical location. However, the guidelines used for research ethics review are very similar across a wide variety of jurisdictions. Protection of the privacy and confidentiality of research participants is of paramount importance. The process of informed consent and step-by-step practical guidelines are described. The issue of research in vulnerable populations is discussed and guidelines are provided. Practical advice is provided for researchers to guide their interactions with research ethics boards.