Ethics Task Force – Draft Principle: Be Open and Honest

6 thoughts on “Ethics Task Force – Draft Principle: Be Open and Honest”

  1. I’d like to hear a clarification of the meaning of the citation to articles on covert research by sociologists, which seem to at times make the case for covert methods (“the case for covert research in the face of much conventional opposition”). So, do the proposed guidelines themselves take a position against covert research? If so, the citations seem confusing.

  2. “Be open and honest regarding your work. Make your results accessible.”

    I agree with Patty that these seem like two principles and applies to two different stages of the anthropological scientific/technical process – recruitment and validation.

    The first of the two principles applies to recruiting a subject and/or a client and/or sponsor. Be open about what your purpose and methods are, what you expect from the the subject/client/sponsor, and what the expected outcome or use of the product of your effort will be.

    This allows the subject et al the right to refuse to participate. The anthropologist is then ethically bound to respect the individual’s refusal to participate.

    The second principle included here is “make your results accessible.” is really a good scientific validation technique and practice. By accessible, the anthropologist is ethically obligated to the informants or individuals who are identified in the report to allow them the opportunity to confirm or deny the accuracy of the information credited to them.

    This also serves the function of validating the data. The anthropologist should be ethically bound to represent his/her sources accurately. This is done by making the cited information available to the subject/informant for verification.

    Anthropologists and anthropology deals with macro-level issues, not individuals. To assume otherwise is not to be an anthropologist but to practice some other discipline. Therefore, any other interpretation of accessible other than the validity issue runs into direct conflict with the principle of individual confidentiality. vs public disclosure (public defined as non-private).

    Therefore Principle Three should be reconsidered in terms of the two separate goals or purpose they are intended to serve..

  3. I think this comprises two principles that should be separated, and here is why: The mechanism for being open and honest regarding your work is quite different than the mechanism for making “the results” of your work accessible. Being open and honest is the comparatively easier of the two, since it can be accomplished, at the simplest level, through a dialogic relationship with one’s interlocutors. Making your work accessible might be something you desperately wish to do; but if your interlocutors live a long and expensive plane ride away, if they are not all over internet and other technologies, and if they do not read the language in which you write, then significant resources are needed on your part to achieve the second principle of making your results accessible. Maintaining open lines of communication with research interlocutors by whatever means possible in an open-ended time frame is certainly achievable. I think what may help here is more clarity in what is meant by “results” in anthropological research.

  4. This principle is clear in its expectations, however broad. In the last paragraph, you stop short of saying if research misleads, omits important info, manipulates, or deceives, don’t do it. Why? State the action you recommend in those cases. It will help remove ambiguity, increase accountability, and help set clear guidelines for decision-making. Any principle will be open to interpretation, so make it as explicit as possible.

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