Student as the optimum research subject: How to avoid undue influence and compulsion.

It’s believed no matter the investigator/researcher’s positive intentions or instructor, to conduct a study using students as the research subject.  They should first seek the consent of the respective student. The student has the power to agree or deny the instructor’s demands or request. Studies show students may feel compelled to participate in the study due to the pressure and fear of failing to partake. It will affect them negatively, the fear of bad grades, or the instructor’s attitude towards them.  Researcher/instructors should consider the reasons before involving any student as a subject.

What step should be considered when a student is involved in research in University or college?

  • There should be a proper step to eliminate or reduce the risk of undue influence that may affect students participating in any research.
  • The investigator or researcher should seek student consent to minimize the situation of coercion or undue influence.
  • The University or college under the Human Research Protection OHRP recommends that the faculty/investigator or student participating in a study should be voluntary.
  • Students may receive extra credit or rewards for participating in research. However, the student should be informed of non-research alternatives that might involve comparable time and extra effort to obtain rewards and credit.  These reduce the risk of undue influence. Nonetheless, students must also be informed if participation is a course requirement. They should understand the non-alternatives to reduce the possibility of undue influence.
  • No student should be penalized or discriminated against for refusing to participate in any of the studies.
  • College and Universities should have student subject pools to help identify students who are willing to participate as subjects even if they don’t know the type of research they are to take.
  • However, students who sign for the student subject pool have not given their consent making it an illegal practice. These happen since they don’t know the type of research they will participate in.  They have less information about the research, which they have a right to know before signing.


  • Researchers should not use students as a population of expediency in any research study through classrooms.  If the instructor has to use the student, they have to offer a proper reason for using them is the subject. 
  • Faculty must seek permission from the responsible University or college body before initiating any research.  They should also obtain documentation to support or show permission from authorities.
  • Though the researchers will get the student consent, they should ensure the process has minimal undue influence on the student subject.
  • If the instructor uses students as the subject, they should not know the participant’s details until the final grades are posted. It will help avoid discrimination of students who don’t participate. These minimize the possibility of undue influence on student subjects keeping everyone safe during the research activities.

In general, researchers should get student consent before considering them for research. Any answer, whether positive or negative, from the participant, should be considered with esteem by the faculty.

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