[URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics

Marc Tyrrell marctyrrell at gmail.com
Thu Jul 30 10:00:02 EDT 2009

Hi Fethi,

I ran across that situation during my PhD research, except in a stronger
form: I was *required* to use their real names or they wouldn't grant me any
field access.  I mentioned all of the concerns brought up by Marni but the
general response was laughter and and amusement - no one had any concerns
except my committee.  In fact, several of my informants felt that my
concerns over the issue were just another example of academic arrogance <wry

The rule I ended up following was that if my informants requested or
required that I use their real names, I did.  If they were neutral or
"didn't mind", I used pseudonyms.  All the interviews I took (as opposed to
fieldnotes) were typed up and sent back to the informants for their approval
with an option for them to edit anything in them - no one took me up on it.
I also ended up using a lot of "neutral" pronouns and phrases (e.g. "several
of my informants") in the actual writing.

Hope this helps,



On Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 12:41 PM, Fethi Keles <fkeles at maxwell.syr.edu>wrote:

> Friends,
> I would like to receive opinions on the following issue, if possible.
> What most everyone does when we write things up is to change names and use
> pseudonyms etc. etc. But, what do you do if an informant a) specifically
> asks to be identified with his/her actual name in your study (book, article
> whatever) b) says s/he doesn't care/wouldn't mind if you were to use his/her
> actual name?
> I feel the answer to this must be more than 'well go ahead and do as s/he
> says', for there could be a whole lot of other implications if one does so.
> Any readings you would suggest? What courses of action would be on the table
> in the two cases above?
> Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thank you.
> Fethi Keles
> PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology
> Maxwell School
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> URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
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Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies,  NPSIA
Carleton University

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