Ethics Contract for Sociocultural Research
Department of Anthropology
Western Oregon University
Anthropology students who are interviewing people
class assignments or senior projects must follow these guidelines,
are essentially matters of common sense and common courtesy.
1. Before beginning any interview, obtain informed
make sure that the person you are interviewing understands clearly your
purpose for conducting this research, the scope of your
research (what other methods you are using to explore your topic), and
its ultimate outcome (e.g., a class paper, a senior thesis) and who
read it. Let the person know that participation is totally voluntary.
cover up or minimize the fact that you are doing research!
2. Students should not put any kind of pressure on
people they are interviewing.
3. No interviews are allowed with subjects under age
incarcerated criminals, or mentally ill patients unless you
a full review by the university's Institutional Review Board.
Remind the informant that they may end the
interview at any
Do not press the informant to respond to inquiries
make him/her embarrassed or uncomfortable.
4. If you make an audio or video recording of your
5. Keep your research confidential:
Obtain permission before turning on the
Turn it off immediately if requested to do so; you
once per session for permission to turn it on again.
Tell the subject honestly who will be allowed to
the tape and keep your word. You may not play the tape for anyone but
instructor and the members of your class.
Tell the subject honestly what you will do with the
when the project is finished (erase it, give it to the subject, save it
for future research). If the subject does not want you to save the
promise him or her in writing that you will give the tape to them or to
your instructor for erasure, and give a copy of this agreement to the
You may not copy the tape without explicit
the subject, and any agreement you make about the original tape applies
to all of its copies.
When you write up or discuss your results, and when
any cassette tapes that will be handed in to the professor, do not use
the subject's real name unless they request that you do so. Rather, use
a pseudonym. Furthermore, do not include information that could
the subject (e.g. '40 year old freshman from Coos Bay').
Keep all your notes out of the hands of casual
them out of sight, for instance in a locked drawer, if there is
in them that is confidential.
Do not engage in gossip (even with close friends)
people you are studying.
6. In public places where no reasonable expectation
privacy exists (like malls, parks, streets, and train stations) you may
observe what people are doing without consent from individuals.
be aware of these restrictions:
7. Certain spaces are open to groups but are not
"public." Examples of non-public group spaces are: churches,
private parties, clubs, homes, and institutional settings open only to
specified individuals. To engage in participant-observation among
in such settings you must obtain informed consent before you observe
and listen to conversations.
In public places you may never engage in the
manipulation of research participants without their knowledge"; in
words, you may NOT test or provoke a person who does not know they are
being tested or provoked. You can only interact with people "naturally"
as a participant in a social situation.
You may only interact and converse with people if
minimal risk of embarrasment, emotional discomfort, or offense for the
individuals with whom you are interacting or conversing. Otherwise,
from interaction and conversation and simply engage in observation. If
you are involved in an important incident or conversation that you wish
to record, make every effort to obtain permission post hoc.
You may not eavesdrop on private conversations that
not a part of if you have not received informed consent. You may only
You may not pursue or follow particular individuals
away from the space where you are making your observations, but must
only on social activities taking place in a specific space, with the
of meeting a particular research agenda.
You may not tape or videorecord activities if there
or sensitive activities taking place or being discussed.
8. If working within an institution, such as a church
or an athletic team, get permission from its highest official. If you
to plan to conduct research where you work (be it paid or voluntary
be sure to get your employer's/supervisor's permission for your
Explain your research purpose and methods to the
you will be observing (contact all people individually or address the
as a whole)
Ask each individual for their permission to observe
their behavior and conversation.
Give students your Email and phone number so that
can contact you privately to discuss questions and concerns and/or to
themselves from the study.
Individuals who state that they do not want to be
should not be included in the study!
If a student opposes the anthropology student's
even if (s)he herself is not being observed, then no participant
can take place in that setting.
9. Keep your research confidential, as outlined in
I agree to follow these Ethical Guidelines
_________________________________ Date ______________