Posted: November 27th, 2013
American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics
American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics
Ethical Issues that Anthropologists and other Social Scientists should consider when Conducting Research with People
The American Anthropological Association Code of Ethics requires that researchers should be “open about the purpose, potential impact and sources’ of research. Some of the ethical issues that anthropologists and social scientists should consider when conducting research are discussed here. First, anthropologists and other researchers should ensure that people are safe and are protected from harm. They should make sure that the knowledge obtained does not lead other people into harmful situations, and that it does not cause them to commit any immoral or illegal act. Anthropologists should respect all people irrespective of who they are or where they come from. They should not just respect those in authority or those with high status, but rather, they should recognize that everybody is important. Anthropologists should also ensure that their research does not affect people’s dignity. They should actively seek the opinion of the people they work with and those they are going to encounter in the course of their research. This should be done by aiming to build a good working relationship with the affected individuals.
Anthropologists should also strive to ensure that they maintain people’s privacy. They should enquire whether their sources of information wish to remain anonymous or whether they want to be recognized, and they should honor their wishes. Additionally, researchers should make participants understand that conditions of anonymity or recognition may not be guaranteed despite their best efforts. Researchers must ensure that they inform all the participants about the consequences of participating in the research. They should provide the participants with all possible choices. Before conducting the research, anthropologists should have the informed consent of all the individuals who will be affected by the study. This includes the people being studied, those who will provide them with information, those who own or control access to the material being studied and any one else that might be affected by the study.
In addition, researchers should know and comply with all the informed consent codes, laws and regulations. Although the consent does not have to be written or signed, those carrying out research should ensure that they have complied with all the rules. The process of getting informed consent should start when the study begins and should continue until the end. Researchers sometimes form close relationships with the people they work with or with other participants. They should carefully respect and negotiate the limitations of those relationships and should never exploit the people being studied. Instead, researchers are required to recognize the contributions participants make and should make every effort to reciprocate their kindness and participation.
Importance of a Code of Ethics for Social Scientists
Social scientists recognize the importance of having a code of ethics. This is because the codes act as a guideline, assisting the scientists when they are faced with complex ethical issues. Social scientists study the public as well as private lives of people and some of the information they get is confidential (Jamison, 2007). A code of ethics ensures that they know what to do with confidential information. A code of ethics assists scientists in conducting their work effectively by giving them guidelines on how they should go about it. It ensures that scientists stick to the main aim of research, which is finding knowledge and truth, and avoiding error.
Social scientists work with many different people, and having a code of ethics ensures that they know how to work well with everyone, and maintain values such as trust, respect and fairness so that they can get the information they want. A code of ethics is important to social scientists because it ensures that they are responsible and remain accountable to the society (Resnik, 2010). It helps the scientists in knowing when they are breaking the rules and when they are behaving inappropriately. Sometimes a code of ethics includes the repercussions of misbehavior. Codes of ethics also guide the scientists when conducting research, by ensuring that they come up with conclusive and unbiased results. This is by ensuring that scientists follow all the rules as stipulated, and that he or she does not offer misleading results (Cessda, 2011).
Cessda. (2011). Research ethics. Council of European Social Science Data Archives. Retrieved from http://www.cessda.org/sharing/rights/4/
Jamison, W. (2007). Confidentiality in social science research. Retrieved from http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/Projects/confidentiality.html
Mertens, D., Ginsberg, P. (2009). The handbook of social research ethics. New York, NY: SAGE Publications Inc.
Resnik, B. D. (2010). What is ethics in research & why is it important? Retrieved from http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis.cfm
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