Once again, Peter Greco has raised a topic of interest to me. I concur with his comments noting that the scientific community has an ethical responsibility to “encourage human dignity and safety in research.” The AJO-DO first announced its increased emphasis on this issue in 2006 with publication of 2 editorials. The content of these editorials was based on the recently updated Uniform Requirements for Biomedical Journals as developed by the International Committee of the Medical Journal Editors. The AJO-DO has been a member of this organization for quite some time, as are thousands of other biomedical journals worldwide ( www.icmje.org ).
In the second editorial, I noted that, “When reporting experiments on human subjects, authors should indicate whether their procedures were in accordance with the ethical standard of the responsible committee on human experimentation and the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. When reporting experiments on animals, authors are asked to indicate whether the institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed.”
As a follow-up to the publication of this material, a number of articles submitted for publication to the AJO-DO were rejected, as suggested by their respective reviewers. Some of these decisions were not easy to make—not only because of the obvious disappointment for the authors, but also because the research findings would not be available to our readers. I still remember 1 such study involving the accurate measurement of bone levels and palatally impacted canines. This study was rejected due to the inclusion of a palatal flap in all patients, even though such extensive involvement was not always necessary to effectively resolve the problem clinically. When looking to the future, one must wonder when the use of cone-beam computed tomography imaging will be considered a breach of ethics if it does not benefit the patient involved in a specific study.
As Peter Greco concluded in his monthly column, “we must remember in conducting human study research . . . one of the most powerful rules of all time: to treat others as you would want them to treat you.”