• 2016 AA Editor Search
  • Get Ready for the Annual Meeting

    From t-shirts to journals, 2014 Annual Meeting Gear Shop Now
  • Open Anthropology
  • Latest AAA Podcast

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 18,396 other followers

Draft AAA Code of Ethics Compared With Existing Code

KEY:

2009 Code in Times New Roman, black (with an exception, explained below)

Draft code in Calibri in red

To facilitate the work of the task force, we’ve decided to produce a side by side comparison document with the new draft code of ethics provisions and the latest (2009) version of the code. The 2009 code is presented in its current order in black. Each section of the current code is followed, where appropriate, by the draft code revisions in red (with the draft principle named in parentheses after the text).  Where necessary/useful, particular pieces of the draft code corresponding to specific text in the current code is underlined and bolded.

Where text in the current code has not been explicitly / evidently reiterated in the draft code, that text is in blue and italics.

The preamble, the introduction, and the epilogue are not included here; the Task Force continues work on those sections. We welcome your comments and feedback.

III. Research

In both proposing and carrying out research, anthropological researchers must be open about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and source(s) of support for research projects with funders, colleagues, persons studied or providing information, and with relevant parties affected by the research. Researchers must expect to utilize the results of their work in an appropriate fashion and disseminate the results through appropriate and timely activities. Research fulfilling these expectations is ethical, regardless of the source of funding (public or private) or purpose (i.e., “applied,” “basic,” “pure,” or “proprietary”). [this introduction  is now covered in separate principles]

Anthropological researchers should be alert to the danger of compromising anthropological ethics as a condition to engage in research, yet also be alert to proper demands of good citizenship or host/guest relations. Active contribution and leadership in seeking to shape public or private sector actions and policies may be as ethically justifiable as inaction, detachment, or noncooperation, depending on circumstances. Similar principles hold for anthropological researchers employed or otherwise affiliated with nonanthropological institutions, public institutions, or private enterprises.

A. Responsibility to people and animals with whom anthropological researchers work and whose lives and cultures they study.

1. Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work. These obligations can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge, and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a research project when the primary obligation conflicts with other responsibilities, such as those owed to sponsors or clients.

Anthropologists share a primary ethical obligation to avoid doing harm to the lives, communities or environments they study or that may be impacted by their work.  This includes not only the avoidance of direct and immediate harm but implies an obligation to weigh carefully the future consequences and impacts of an anthropologist’s work on others.  This primary obligation can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a project. Avoidance of harm is a primary ethical obligation, but determining harms and their avoidance in any given situation may be complex.

While anthropologists welcome work benefiting others or increasing the well-being of individuals or communities, determinations regarding what is in the best interests of others or what kinds of efforts are appropriate to increase well-being are complex and value-laden and should reflect sustained discussion with those concerned.  Such work should reflect deliberate and thoughtful consideration of both potential unintended consequences and long-term impacts on individuals, communities, identities, tangible and intangible heritage and environments (Do No Harm)

These ethical obligations include:

• To avoid harm or wrong, understanding that the development of knowledge can lead to change which may be positive or negative for the people or animals worked with or studied

Anthropologists share a primary ethical obligation to avoid doing harm to the lives, communities or environments they study or that may be impacted by their work.  This includes not only the avoidance of direct and immediate harm but implies an obligation to weigh carefully the future consequences and impacts of an anthropologist’s work on others.  This primary obligation can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a project. Avoidance of harm is a primary ethical obligation, but determining harms and their avoidance in any given situation may be complex.

While anthropologists welcome work benefiting others or increasing the well-being of individuals or communities, determinations regarding what is in the best interests of others or what kinds of efforts are appropriate to increase well-being are complex and value-laden and should reflect sustained discussion with those concerned.  Such work should reflect deliberate and thoughtful consideration of both potential unintended consequences and long-term impacts on individuals, communities, identities, tangible and intangible heritage and environments (Do No Harm)

• To respect the well-being of humans and nonhuman primates

Anthropologists share a primary ethical obligation to avoid doing harm to the lives, communities or environments they study or that may be impacted by their work.  This includes not only the avoidance of direct and immediate harm but implies an obligation to weigh carefully the future consequences and impacts of an anthropologist’s work on others.  This primary obligation can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a project.Avoidance of harm is a primary ethical obligation, but determining harms and their avoidance in any given situation may be complex.

While anthropologists welcome work benefiting others or increasing the well-being of individuals or communities, determinations regarding what is in the best interests of others or what kinds of efforts are appropriate to increase well-being are complex and value-laden and should reflect sustained discussion with those concerned.  Such work should reflect deliberate and thoughtful consideration of both potential unintended consequences and long-term impacts on individuals, communities, identities, tangible and intangible heritage and environments (Do No Harm)

• To work for the long-term conservation of the archaeological, fossil, and historical records[now covered in a separate principle, Protect and Preserve Your Records]

• To consult actively with the affected individuals or group(s), with the goal of establishing a working relationship that can be beneficial to all parties involved

Anthropology is an inherently social enterprise, whether in terms of teaching, inquiry, or professional practice.

Anthropologists develop collaborative and often interdependent relationships with, among others, research participants, students, professional colleagues, employers and funders.

These varying relationships may create conflicting, competing or crosscutting ethical obligations, reflecting both the relative vulnerabilities of different individuals, communities or populations, asymmetries of power implicit in a range of relationships, and the differing ethical frameworks of collaborators representing other disciplines or areas of practice.

Anthropologists have an obligation to distinguish the different kinds of interdependencies and collaborations their work involves, and to consider the real and potential ethical dimensions of these diverse and sometimes contradictory relationships, which may be different in character or change over time.  When conflicts between ethical standards or expectations arise, anthropologists should make explicit their ethical obligations, and negotiate an ethical approach. Recognizing that anthropologists work in diverse settings and that research projects are shaped by anthropologists and their collaborators, nevertheless anthropologists remain individually responsible for making ethical decisions.

Collaborations may be defined and understood quite differently by the various participants. The scope of collaboration, rights of the various parties, and issues of credit, acknowledgment and data access should be openly and fairly established at the outset.  Collaborations normally involve compromise, and anthropologists must be sensitive to relationships of power and whether such compromise is freely given. (Balance competing obligations)

2.In conducting and publishing their research, or otherwise disseminating their research results, anthropological researchers must ensure that they do not harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work, conduct research, or perform other professional activities, or who might reasonably be thought to be affected by their research.[see Section VI, Dissemination of Results, below,  for current code wording and draft wording].  Anthropological researchers working with animals must do everything in their power to ensure that the research does not harm the safety, psychological well-being or survival of the animals or species with which they work.

3.Anthropological researchers must determine in advance whether their hosts/providers of information wish to remain anonymous or receive recognition, and make every effort to comply with those wishes. Researchers must present to their research participants the possible impacts of the choices, and make clear that despite their best efforts, anonymity may be compromised or to materialize.

Anthropological researchers working with living human communities should obtain in advance the informed consent of persons being studied, providing information, owning or controlling access to material being studied.  The degree and breadth of informed consent may be influenced by the nature of the project and its setting. Minimally, informed consent would include sharing with potential participants, in an understandable form, the research goals, methods, funding sources or sponsors, expected outcomes, and anticipated impacts as well as establishing expectations of anonymity or credit. Researchers must present to research participants the possible impacts of participation, and make clear that despite their best efforts, anonymity may be compromised or outcomes may differ from those anticipated.

Consent must be freely given, and anthropologists must be sensitive to circumstances in which consent may not be truly voluntary or informed. In the event that the research changes in ways that will directly affect the participants, forms of participation should be revisited and consent renegotiated. The informed consent process is necessarily dynamic and continuous; the process should be initiated as part of project design and continue through implementation as an ongoing dialogue and negotiation with those studied. Informed consent does not necessarily imply or require a particular written or signed form. It is the quality of the consent not its format that is relevant.(Informed consent)

4.Anthropological researchers should obtain in advance the informed consent of persons being studied, providing information, owning or controlling access to material being studied, or otherwise identified as having interests which might be impacted by the research. It is understood that the degree and breadth of informed consent required will depend on the nature of the project and may be affected by requirements of other codes, laws, and ethics of the country or community in which the research is pursued. Further, it is understood that the informed consent process is dynamic and continuous; the process should be initiated in the project design and continue through implementation by way of dialogue and negotiation with those studied. Researchers are responsible for identifying and complying with the various informed consent codes, laws and regulations affecting their projects. Informed consent, for the purposes of this code, does not necessarily imply or require a particular written or signed form. It is the quality of the consent, not the format, that is relevant.

Anthropological researchers working with living human communities should obtain in advance the informed consent of persons being studied, providing information, owning or controlling access to material being studied.  The degree and breadth of informed consent may be influenced by the nature of the project and its setting. Minimally, informed consent would include sharing with potential participants, in an understandable form, the research goals, methods, funding sources or sponsors, expected outcomes, and anticipated impacts as well as establishing expectations of anonymity or credit. Researchers must present to research participants the possible impacts of participation, and make clear that despite their best efforts, anonymity may be compromised or outcomes may differ from those anticipated.

Consent must be freely given, and anthropologists must be sensitive to circumstances in which consent may not be truly voluntary or informed. In the event that the research changes in ways that will directly affect the participants, forms of participation should be revisited and consent renegotiated. The informed consent process is necessarily dynamic and continuous; the process should be initiated as part of project design and continue through implementation as an ongoing dialogue and negotiation with those studied.Informed consent does not necessarily imply or require a particular written or signed form. It is the quality of the consent not its format that is relevant. (Informed consent)

5.Anthropological researchers who have developed close and enduring relationships (i.e., covenantal relationships) with either individual persons providing information or with hosts must adhere to the obligations of openness and informed consent, while carefully and respectfully negotiating the limits of the relationship.

Anthropology is an inherently social enterprise, whether in terms of teaching, inquiry, or professional practice.

Anthropologists develop collaborative and often interdependent relationships with, among others, research participants, students, professional colleagues, employers and funders.

These varying relationships may create conflicting, competing or crosscutting ethical obligations, reflecting both the relative vulnerabilities of different individuals, communities or populations, asymmetries of power implicit in a range of relationships, and the differing ethical frameworks of collaborators representing other disciplines or areas of practice.

Anthropologists have an obligation to distinguish the different kinds of interdependencies and collaborations their work involves, and to consider the real and potential ethical dimensions of these diverse and sometimes contradictory relationships, which may be different in character or change over time.  When conflicts between ethical standards or expectations arise, anthropologists should make explicit their ethical obligations, and negotiate an ethical approach. Recognizing that anthropologists work in diverse settings and that research projects are shaped by anthropologists and their collaborators, nevertheless anthropologists remain individually responsible for making ethical decisions.

Collaborations may be defined and understood quite differently by the various participants. The scope of collaboration, rights of the various parties, and issues of credit, acknowledgment and data access should be openly and fairly established at the outset.  Collaborations normally involve compromise, and anthropologists must be sensitive to relationships of power and whether such compromise is freely given. (Balance competing obligations)

6. While anthropologists may gain personally from their work, they must not exploit individuals, groups, animals, or cultural or biological materials. They should recognize their debt to the societies in which they work and their obligation to reciprocate with people studied in appropriate ways.

B. Responsibility to scholarship and science

1. Anthropological researchers must expect to encounter ethical dilemmas at every stage of their work, and must make good-faith efforts to identify potential ethical claims and conflicts in advance when preparing proposals and as projects proceed. A section raising and responding to potential ethical issues should be part of every research proposal.

2. Anthropological researchers bear responsibility for the integrity and reputation of their discipline, of scholarship, and of science. Thus, anthropological researchers are subject to the general moral rules of scientific and scholarly conduct: they should not deceive or knowingly misrepresent (i.e., fabricate evidence, falsify, and plagiarize), or attempt to prevent reporting of misconduct, or obstruct the scientific/scholarly research of others.

Whether they work in academic or applied settings, anthropologists should strive to maintain respectful relationships with colleagues. In mentoring students, interacting with colleagues, working with clients, or supervising staff, anthropologists should comport themselves in ways that promote a supportive and sustainable workplace environment.

In their capacity as researchers, anthropologists are subject to the ethical principles guiding all scientific and scholarly conduct. They should not fabricate evidence, plagiarize the work of others, or otherwise knowingly misrepresent information. They should also be alert to the potential of bias to compromise the integrity of anthropological work. When they see evidence of research misconduct, they are obligated to report it. They should not obstruct the scholarly efforts of others when they are carried out responsibly.

In their role as teachers and mentors, anthropologists should provide instruction on the ethical responsibilities associated with every aspect of anthropological work. They should facilitate, and encourage their students to engage in, dialogue on ethical issues, and discourage their participation in ethically questionable projects. Anthropologists should publicly acknowledge student contributions to their research and writing, and compensate students justly for any assistance they provide. They should give students appropriate credit for the authorship of their ideas, and encourage the publication of worthy student work. (Ethical dimension to all relationships)

3. Anthropological researchers should do all they can to preserve opportunities for future fieldworkers to follow them to the field.

4. Anthropologists have a responsibility to be both honest and transparent with all stakeholders about the nature and intent of their research. They must not misrepresent their research goals, funding sources, activities, or findings. Anthropologists should never deceive the people they are studying regarding the sponsorship, goals, methods, products, or expected impacts of their work.

Deliberately misrepresenting one’s research goals and impact to research subjects is a clear violation of research ethics, as is conducting clandestine research.

Anthropologists should be clear and open regarding the purpose, methods, outcomes, and sponsors of their work. Anthropologists must also be prepared to acknowledge and disclose to participants and collaborators all tangible and intangible interests that have, or may reasonably be perceived to have, an impact on their work.

Transparency, like informed consent, is a process that involves both making principled decisions prior to beginning the research and encouraging participation, engagement, and open debate throughout its course. Achieving transparency should not conflict with the primary obligation to avoid harm to the individuals, communities, environments, or resources being studied.

In general the results of anthropological research should be made freely available, except in cases where restricted dissemination serves to protect the confidentiality, privacy, safety, and/or dignity of participants, and/or protect cultural heritage or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Dissemination of the results of anthropological research to the participants is expected; however, when sharing results with participants is deemed to be inappropriate the reasons must be clearly explained as part of the consent process so that all involved are aware of any reasonable limitations prior to consent.

Research that by design does not allow the anthropologist to know the full scope or purpose of a project (i.e. compartmentalized research ) is ethically problematic, since by definition the anthropologist cannot communicate transparently with participants, nor ensure fully informed consent.  Researchers who mislead participants about the nature of the research and/or its sponsors; who omit significant information that might bear on a participant’s decision to engage in the research; or who otherwise engage in clandestine or secretive research that manipulates or deceives research participants about the sponsorship, purpose, goals or implications of the research, are not fulfilling basic requirements for openness, honesty, transparency and fully informed consent. (Be open and honest)

5. Anthropological researchers should utilize the results of their work in an appropriate fashion, and whenever possible disseminate their findings to the scientific and scholarly community.

Anthropologists should be clear and open regarding the purpose, methods, outcomes, and sponsors of their work. Anthropologists must also be prepared to acknowledge and disclose to participants and collaborators all tangible and intangible interests that have, or may reasonably be perceived to have, an impact on their work.

Transparency, like informed consent, is a process that involves both making principled decisions prior to beginning the research and encouraging participation, engagement, and open debate throughout its course. Achieving transparency should not conflict with the primary obligation to avoid harm to the individuals, communities, environments, or resources being studied.

In general the results of anthropological research should be made freely available, except in cases where restricted dissemination serves to protect the confidentiality, privacy, safety, and/or dignity of participants, and/or protect cultural heritage or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Dissemination of the results of anthropological research to the participants is expected; however, when sharing results with participants is deemed to be inappropriate the reasons must be clearly explained as part of the consent process so that all involved are aware of any reasonable limitations prior to consent.

Research that by design does not allow the anthropologist to know the full scope or purpose of a project (i.e. compartmentalized research ) is ethically problematic, since by definition the anthropologist cannot communicate transparently with participants, nor ensure fully informed consent.  Researchers who mislead participants about the nature of the research and/or its sponsors; who omit significant information that might bear on a participant’s decision to engage in the research; or who otherwise engage in clandestine or secretive research that manipulates or deceives research participants about the sponsorship, purpose, goals or implications of the research, are not fulfilling basic requirements for openness, honesty, transparency and fully informed consent. (Be open and honest)

6. Anthropological researchers should seriously consider all reasonable requests for access to their data and other research materials for purposes of research. They should also make every effort to insure preservation of their fieldwork data for use by posterity.

Anthropologists have an ethical responsibility for ensuring the integrity, preservation and protection of their work.  An anthropologist’s  ability to protect and use the materials collected may be contingent upon complex issues of ownership and stewardship.

Researchers have an ethical responsibility to take precautions that collected data and materials will not be used for ends other than those specified at the time the data were collected.  These issues are not always clear at the time of data collection, but the researcher is responsible for considering and communicating all likely or foreseeable uses of a subject’s datasets as part of the process of informed consent or obtaining permission. Researchers are also responsible for consulting with research participants regarding their views of generation, use and preservation of research records.  This includes informing research participants whether data and materials might be transferred to or accessed by other parties; how they might be transformed or used to identify participants; and how they will be stored and how long they will be preserved.

Researchers should use appropriate methods to ensure the confidentiality and security of field notes, recordings, samples or other primary data and the identities of participants. Ethical decisions regarding the preservation of research materials must balance obligations to maintain data integrity with responsibilities to protect research participants against future impacts. Given the multiple constituencies for and new uses that are often made of anthropological research, such as by heritage communities, the interests of preservation ordinarily outweigh the potential benefits of destroying materials for preserving confidentiality. Researchers generating object collections have a responsibility to ensure the preservation and accessibility of the resulting materials and/or results of analyzed samples, including associated documentation.

In the absence of other agreements or obligations, an anthropologist is presumed to own her/his notes and records, and has an ethical responsibility to ensure their integrity and continued accessibility after the anthropologist’s death.  Other factors (source of funding, employment agreements, or negotiated agreements with collaborators, among others) may impact ownership of records.  Anthropologists should determine record ownership relating to each project and make appropriate arrangements accordingly as a standard part of ethical practice.  Researchers should be aware that records may be subject to legal claim based on applicable laws and jurisdictions. (Protect and preserve)

C. Responsibility to the public

1. Anthropological researchers should make the results of their research appropriately available to sponsors, students, decision makers, and other nonanthropologists. In so doing, they must be truthful; they are not only responsible for the factual content of their statements but also must consider carefully the social and political implications of the information they disseminate. They must do everything in their power to insure that such information is well understood, properly contextualized, and responsibly utilized. They should make clear the empirical bases upon which their reports stand, be candid about their qualifications and philosophical or political biases, and recognize and make clear the limits of anthropological expertise. At the same time, they must be alert to possible harm their information may cause people with whom they work or colleagues.

The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses. Anthropologists conduct research in order to expand our understanding of lives, histories, cultures, and communities. Thus a general goal is communication of new knowledge in a timely fashion. However, anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research. Anthropologists should consider this issue prior to beginning research and throughout the research process. Explicit negotiation about dissemination and data access with sponsors/clients may be necessary before deciding whether to begin research.

Anthropologists should not normally withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are circumstances, however, where restrictions on disclosure may be appropriate and ethical, such as where participants have been fully informed and have freely agreed to limited dissemination.  In some situations, other kinds of limited dissemination may be appropriate where such restrictions will protect the safety, dignity, or privacy of participants; or protect cultural heritage and/or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Proprietary, classified or other research with limited distribution raises complex ethical questions which must be resolved using these ethical principles. Anthropologists must weigh the intended uses of their research and work to evaluate potential uses of their research and the impact of its dissemination now and in the future.

Limited dissemination poses significant risks.  There may be equally great risks associated with dissemination itself.  Once information is disseminated, even in a limited sphere, there is great likelihood that it will become widely available. Thus, anthropologists should consider situations where preventing dissemination may be the most ethical step. (Dissemination)

2. In relation with his or her own government, host governments, or sponsors of research, an anthropologist should be honest and candid. Anthropologists must not compromise their professional responsibilities and ethics and should not agree to conditions which inappropriately change the purpose, focus or intended outcomes of their research.

3. Anthropologists may choose to move beyond disseminating research results to a position of advocacy. This is an individual decision, but not an ethical responsibility.

IV. Teaching

Responsibility to students and trainees

While adhering to ethical and legal codes governing relations between teachers/mentors and students/trainees at their educational institutions or as members of wider organizations, anthropological teachers should be particularly sensitive to the ways such codes apply in their discipline (for example, when teaching involves close contact with students/trainees in field situations). Among the widely recognized precepts which anthropological teachers, like other teachers/mentors, should follow are:

1. Teachers/mentors should conduct their programs in ways that preclude discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, “race,” social class, political convictions, disability, religion, ethnic background, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or other criteria irrelevant to academic performance.

2. Teachers’/mentors’ duties include continually striving to improve their teaching/training techniques; being available and responsive to student/trainee interests; counseling students/ trainees realistically regarding career opportunities; conscientiously supervising, encouraging, and supporting students’/trainees’ studies; being fair, prompt, and reliable in communicating evaluations; assisting students/trainees in securing research support; and helping students/trainees when they seek professional placement.

3. Teachers/mentors should impress upon students/trainees the ethical challenges involved in every phase of anthropological work; encourage them to reflect upon this and other codes; encourage dialogue with colleagues on ethical issues; and discourage participation in ethically questionable projects.

Whether they work in academic or applied settings, anthropologists should strive to maintain respectful relationships with colleagues. In mentoring students, interacting with colleagues, working with clients, or supervising staff, anthropologists should comport themselves in ways that promote a supportive and sustainable workplace environment.

In their capacity as researchers, anthropologists are subject to the ethical principles guiding all scientific and scholarly conduct. They should not fabricate evidence, plagiarize the work of others, or otherwise knowingly misrepresent information. They should also be alert to the potential of bias to compromise the integrity of anthropological work. When they see evidence of research misconduct, they are obligated to report it. They should not obstruct the scholarly efforts of others when they are carried out responsibly.

In their role as teachers and mentors, anthropologists should provide instruction on the ethical responsibilities associated with every aspect of anthropological work. They should facilitate, and encourage their students to engage in, dialogue on ethical issues, and discourage their participation in ethically questionable projects. Anthropologists should publicly acknowledge student contributions to their research and writing, and compensate students justly for any assistance they provide. They should give students appropriate credit for the authorship of their ideas, and encourage the publication of worthy student work. (Ethical dimension to all relationships)

4. Teachers/mentors should publicly acknowledge student/trainee assistance in research and preparation of their work; give appropriate credit for coauthorship to students/trainees; encourage publication of worthy student/trainee papers; and compensate students/trainees justly for their participation in all professional activities.

Whether they work in academic or applied settings, anthropologists should strive to maintain respectful relationships with colleagues. In mentoring students, interacting with colleagues, working with clients, or supervising staff, anthropologists should comport themselves in ways that promote a supportive and sustainable workplace environment.

In their capacity as researchers, anthropologists are subject to the ethical principles guiding all scientific and scholarly conduct. They should not fabricate evidence, plagiarize the work of others, or otherwise knowingly misrepresent information. They should also be alert to the potential of bias to compromise the integrity of anthropological work. When they see evidence of research misconduct, they are obligated to report it. They should not obstruct the scholarly efforts of others when they are carried out responsibly.

In their role as teachers and mentors, anthropologists should provide instruction on the ethical responsibilities associated with every aspect of anthropological work. They should facilitate, and encourage their students to engage in, dialogue on ethical issues, and discourage their participation in ethically questionable projects. Anthropologists should publicly acknowledge student contributions to their research and writing, and compensate students justly for any assistance they provide. They should give students appropriate credit for the authorship of their ideas, and encourage the publication of worthy student work. (Ethical dimension to all relationships)

5. Teachers/mentors should beware of the exploitation and serious conflicts of interest which may result if they engage in sexual relations with students/trainees. They must avoid sexual liaisons with students/trainees for whose education and professional training they are in any way responsible.

V. Application

1. The same ethical guidelines apply to all anthropological work. That is, in both proposing and carrying out research, anthropologists must be open with funders, colleagues, persons studied or providing information, and relevant parties affected by the work about the purpose(s), potential impacts, and source(s) of support for the work. Applied anthropologists must intend and expect to utilize the results of their work appropriately (i.e., publication, teaching, program and policy development) within a reasonable time. In situations in which anthropological knowledge is applied, anthropologists bear the same responsibility to be open and candid about their skills and intentions, and monitor the effects of their work on all persons affected. Anthropologists may be involved in many types of work, frequently affecting individuals and groups with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests. The individual anthropologist must make carefully considered ethical choices and be prepared to make clear the assumptions, facts and issues on which those choices are based.[many of these sentences now covered elsewhere]

2. In all dealings with employers, persons hired to pursue anthropological research or apply anthropological knowledge should be honest about their qualifications, capabilities, and aims. Prior to making any professional commitments, they must review the purposes of prospective employers, taking into consideration the employer’s past activities and future goals. In working for governmental agencies or private businesses, they should be especially careful not to promise or imply acceptance of conditions contrary to professional ethics or competing commitments.

3. Applied anthropologists, as any anthropologist, should be alert to the danger of compromising anthropological ethics as a condition for engaging in research or practice. They should also be alert to proper demands of hospitality, good citizenship and guest status. Proactive contribution and leadership in shaping public or private sector actions and policies may be as ethically justifiable as inaction, detachment, or noncooperation, depending on circumstances.

VI. Dissemination of Results

1. The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses. Anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research on all directly or indirectly involved.

The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses. Anthropologists conduct research in order to expand our understanding of lives, histories, cultures, and communities. Thus a general goal is communication of new knowledge in a timely fashion. However, anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research. Anthropologists should consider this issue prior to beginning research and throughout the research process. Explicit negotiation about dissemination and data access with sponsors/clients may be necessary before deciding whether to begin research.

Anthropologists should not normally withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are circumstances, however, where restrictions on disclosure may be appropriate and ethical, such as where participants have been fully informed and have freely agreed to limited dissemination.  In some situations  other kinds of limited dissemination may be appropriate where such restrictions will protect the safety, dignity, or privacy of participants; or protect cultural heritage and/or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Proprietary, classified or other research with limited distribution raises complex ethical questions which must be resolved using these ethical principles. Anthropologists must weigh the intended uses of their research and work to evaluate potential uses of their research and the impact of its dissemination now and in the future.

Limited dissemination poses significant risks.  There may be equally great risks associated with dissemination itself.  Once information is disseminated, even in a limited sphere, there is great likelihood that it will become widely available. Thus, anthropologists should consider situations where preventing dissemination may be the most ethical step. (Dissemination)

2. Anthropologists should not withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are specific and limited circumstances however, where disclosure restrictions are appropriate and ethical, particularly where those restrictions serve to protect the safety, dignity or privacy of participants, protect cultural heritage or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.

The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses. Anthropologists conduct research in order to expand our understanding of lives, histories, cultures, and communities. Thus a general goal is communication of new knowledge in a timely fashion. However, anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research. Anthropologists should consider this issue prior to beginning research and throughout the research process. Explicit negotiation about dissemination and data access with sponsors/clients may be necessary before deciding whether to begin research.

Anthropologists should not normally withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are circumstances, however, where restrictions on disclosure may be appropriate and ethical, such as where participants have been fully informed and have freely agreed to limited dissemination.  In some situations  other kinds of limited dissemination may be appropriate where such restrictions will protect the safety, dignity, or privacy of participants; or protect cultural heritage and/or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Proprietary, classified or other research with limited distribution raises complex ethical questions which must be resolved using these ethical principles. Anthropologists must weigh the intended uses of their research and work to evaluate potential uses of their research and the impact of its dissemination now and in the future.

Limited dissemination poses significant risks.  There may be equally great risks associated with dissemination itself.  Once information is disseminated, even in a limited sphere, there is great likelihood that it will become widely available. Thus, anthropologists should consider situations where preventing dissemination may be the most ethical step. (Dissemination)

3. Anthropologists must weigh the intended and potential uses of their work and the impact of its distribution in determining whether limited availability of results is warranted and ethical in any given instance.

The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses. Anthropologists conduct research in order to expand our understanding of lives, histories, cultures, and communities. Thus a general goal is communication of new knowledge in a timely fashion. However, anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research. Anthropologists should consider this issue prior to beginning research and throughout the research process. Explicit negotiation about dissemination and data access with sponsors/clients may be necessary before deciding whether to begin research.

Anthropologists should not normally withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are circumstances, however, where restrictions on disclosure may be appropriate and ethical, such as where participants have been fully informed and have freely agreed to limited dissemination.  In some situations  other kinds of limited dissemination may be appropriate where such restrictions will protect the safety, dignity, or privacy of participants; or protect cultural heritage and/or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Proprietary, classified or other research with limited distribution raises complex ethical questions which must be resolved using these ethical principles. Anthropologists must weigh the intended uses of their research and work to evaluate potential uses of their research and the impact of its dissemination now and in the future.

Limited dissemination poses significant risks.  There may be equally great risks associated with dissemination itself.  Once information is disseminated, even in a limited sphere, there is great likelihood that it will become widely available. Thus, anthropologists should consider situations where preventing dissemination may be the most ethical step. (Dissemination)

2 Responses

  1. […] Click here to review the draft to the existing Code of Ethics. Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditTwitterEmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. Thank you for the chance to comment on the process of revising the AAA code of ethics. First, some comments on three general points:

    (1) The old code had more “dictums” or benchmarks of conduct, whereas the new code tends toward a “best practices” approach and provides more clarification, nuancing, and context. Both are actually helpful, so I suggest a more balanced approach.

    (2) This leads to the second point. Concrete, clear, specific statements regarding ethics and ethical behavior, both in the field and afterwards (dissemination and communication), can be useful to anthropologists who find themselves in situations where they must defend the ethical praxis of their work or resist what they see as harmful use of their research findings by external others (e.g. employers, clients, funders, lawyers, etc.). For example, the old code (C.2.) notes that “Anthropologists must not compromise their professional responsibilities and ethics and should not agree to conditions which inappropriately change the purpose, focus or intended outcomes of their research.” This is a direct statement that could be especially helpful to anthropologists working in applied settings or under circumstances where there are no direct institutional guidelines (the equivalent to IRBs) regarding research ethics. However, this type of statement is missing in the new draft code (unless I overlooked it).
    Related to this is the complex issue of “ownership” of research and data. It would be helpful to provide guidelines to anthropologists so that they take all necessary steps (from the submission of research proposals all the way through to final reporting and dissemination ) so as to protect both themselves and others who either participated in the research or may be impacted by it.

    (3) There seems to be little distinction made in the code of ethics between applied and non-applied anthropological work. On the one hand, treating all sorts of anthropological work on an equal footing with regards to ethics is a good thing. Much of anthropological work these days is applied in one sense or another (regardless of whether the anthropologist identifies it as such), especially if one accepts a broader definition such as “anthropology in use” (as I have done, along with my colleagues, John van Willigen and Merrill Singer). However, there are unique issues that arise when one is working for a client (and these vary widely depending on the situation … anthropologists work across and with a broad spectrum of settings, clients, collaborations, etc. that can be public or non-profit or private). The code of ethics should at least recognize this in positive ways, if not provide guidelines.

    In addition, there are several parts of the old 2009 code that are NOT included in the new draft code, which I want to comment on:

    (a) Old code: “While anthropologists may gain personally from their work, they must not exploit individuals, groups, animals, or cultural or biological materials.”

    This forceful and unequivocal statement about “exploiting” is important and does not appear in the new draft code (unless I missed it). One cannot assume that “doing no harm” necessarily covers exploitation. As the section on “do no harm” in the new draft code notes, “determining harms and their avoidance in any given situation may be complex” — the new code does not specify what is meant by harm nor who makes that determination. Also, “animals or cultural/biological materials” are not mentioned (at least not in the part of the draft code that we have been asked to comment on).

    (b) Old code: “Researchers have an ethical responsibility to take precautions that collected data and materials will not be used for ends other than those specified at the time the data were collected. These issues are not always clear at the time of data collection, but the researcher is responsible for considering and communicating all likely or foreseeable uses of a subject’s datasets as part of the process of informed consent or obtaining permission.”

    The old code is explicit about the anthropologist’s responsibility to take all steps to anticipate potential uses of data and let participants know. The new code seems to dilute this responsibility,
    although it does go into more detail about what such likely uses of data might be.

    (c) Old code (see ‘responsibility to the public’):
    “They should make clear the empirical bases upon which their reports stand, be candid about their qualifications and philosophical or political biases, and recognize and make clear the limits of anthropological expertise.”

    Section B2 in the new draft code notes that anthropologists “should be alert to the potential of bias to compromise the integrity” of their work. But this is a weaker statement than the original one. Given that everyone approaches a research problem and situation with some level of bias–especially if the topic/issue being studied has political/human rights/controversial aspects, having a statement that explicitly notes the importance of being candid regarding one’s biases seems important. Same goes for the level of one’s qualifications. There have been some recent cases where concerns have been raised about both biases and qualifications — e.g., anthropologists working for the military, and especially those working within war zones.

    (d) Old code: “Anthropologists may choose to move beyond disseminating research results to a position of advocacy.”

    The new draft code makes no mention of advocacy or activism. This is an omission that needs to be rethought (see my comment #2 above).

    (e) The old code included a number of statements regarding conduct and obligations while teaching. The new draft code seems to really water this down. In addition to duties and responsibilities of the anthropologist to the student, teaching involves unique relationships of power that should be addressed.

    (f) Old code (under “application”) notes: “Proactive contribution and leadership in shaping public or private sector actions and policies may be as ethically justifiable as inaction, detachment, or noncooperation, depending on circumstances.”

    It is a good thing, in my opinion, that this old statement was deleted, since it was problematic–in part because it implied that inaction or detachment were assumed to always be ethical stances. The new draft code seems to avoid this issue altogether, which is also problematic. There are many anthropologists working in situations or on problems, where advocacy is an accepted potential role. This is certainly true in explicitly-applied work, but also appears in work done by independent anthropologists (e.g., those who study illegal organ transplants, the complexities of homelessness, the underground economy, many issues/topics that have explicit human rights implications, etc.) This should at least be acknowledged in the new code.

    Thanks to everyone who is working on making the AAA Code of Ethics more relevant and useful.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,396 other followers

%d bloggers like this: