Each research study is different. Some studies are large and take place at many sites around the world. Others may be small studies occurring at only one location. Some studies are sponsored by government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, while others are funded by companies that make medications or medical devices.
The person in charge of a study is called the "principal investigator," or "PI." Other investigators usually assist the PI. There may also be a person who helps organize the study. This person is called the "research coordinator," or sometimes the "research nurse." These people work together to help make sure the study is conducted properly.
Children who participate in research are called "participants" or "subjects."
Sometimes, children participating in a study are randomly divided into groups. One group, called the experimental group (or sometimes the treatment group), receives the treatment, medicine, or tests that are being studied. Another group, called the control group, serves as a comparison group. This group does NOT receive the experimental treatment or test. The children in this group may receive no treatment at all, the standard treatment, or a placebo. A placebo is an intervention or substance that is NOT expected to improve a certain disease or condition. A so-called "sugar pill" is a good example of a placebo.
Depending on the study, your child may not receive the experimental treatment - meaning he or she would be in the control group instead. In other studies, all children receive the same treatment.