The field of graduate medical education (GME) research is attracting increased attention and broader participation. The authors review the special ethical and methodological considerations pertaining to medical education research. Because residents are at once a convenient and captive study population, a risk of coercion exists, making the provision of consent important. The role of the institutional review board (IRB) is often difficult to discern because GME activities can have multiple simultaneous purposes, educational activities may go forward with or without a research component, and the subjects of educational research studies are not patients. The authors provide a road map for researchers with regard to research oversight by the IRB and also address issues related to research quality. The matters of whether educational research studies should have educational value for the study subject and whether to use individual information obtained when residents participate as research subjects are explored.