Below you will find another draft principle for your review and comment.
As you’re aware, the task force has adopted an iterative approach soliciting comments/suggestions/feedback from the entire membership, comments to which we do pay serious attention. There was one comment posted on the second principle which we want to take a moment to address now: “It would be helpful if the Task Force would articulate why the current code is deficient.”
Our reformulation of the current code isn’t meant to imply that the current code is necessarily deficient. We do think, however, that any effective and meaningful code needs to be periodically revised and restated to keep current with the ways in which ethical issues, however timeless, are encountered, discussed and debated by the field. Our intent has not been to suggest a completely new code which will stand without further revision, but to revise the current code in ways that make it more immediately relevant with the expectation that it will be revisited and revised again with frequency, and not just in the event of a crisis in the discipline, and with member input in that revising.
We believe that there is value in the task of presenting many of the same ideas in different ways. Doing so helps anthropologists of all kinds focus on core concepts and see problems in new ways. To that end, we are seeking to identify from both the current code and the earlier Principles of Professional Responsibility broad statements or principles applicable to all anthropologists. We are asking for your help in doing so.
We think an important addition to re-stating these core concepts will be the supporting layers of additional resources–explanatory text, alternative interpretations, examples from different contexts or areas of practice, case studies, and resources from other disciplines. We are also asking for your help in collecting those kinds of resources. The goal is to provide a resource which will be useful in real-world situations by real world anthropologists.
We do not address the issues of sanctions or enforcement; a wide range of opinions on such issues are held not only by the members of the Association but by members of the task force as well. Regardless of viewpoint, however, the members of the task force agreed that a workable and appropriate code must be established before determining how it may be implemented or enforced.
As you read through our blog postings over the next several months, please:
1.carefully read each principle as it is posted to the blog, paying attention to the content and thinking about its relevance to your practice
2.make relevant comments and suggestions on the blog site in a timely manner. Feel free to share personal stories, case examples, competing interpretations, etc.
3.pay attention to the ongoing conversations about the principles and do background reading if you are late to join the discussion of a particular topic. You will be able to make comments on all the principles, not just the most recent one.
Thank you all for your help in this important task.
-The Task Force
Here is another principle for your review:
Balance the responsibility to disseminate with its potential consequences
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.