[URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics

Peterson, Mark Allen Dr. petersm2 at muohio.edu
Thu Jul 30 08:24:26 EDT 2009

Because I work with urban professionals in marketing and the media, this actually comes up often. During my dissertation work, several of my journalist friends felt that there was a kind of intellectual dishonesty, perhaps even plagiarism, involved in using their voices without their names. But my IRB said anonymity so I stuck with it.

In subsequent work, I have gone through IRB with a proposal to assume anonymity but to allow specific individuals to sign a letter requesting I use their names. Its a pain in the rear, because the letter states I must make an effort to contact them and let them see any text which includes material from/by them, and then allow them to change their minds or not. Fortunately, few sign. In fact, in my most recent return to Delhi, even the guy who was most adamant about the wrongness of blanket anonymity decided against signing. Out of 120 interviews, only six signed.

Mark Allen Peterson
Acting Chair, Anthropology Department
& Associate Professor, IInternational Studies Program

petersm2 at muohio.edu

164 Upham Hall
Miami University
Oxford OH 45056
(513) 529-5018 (office)
(513) 529-8396 (fax)
From: urbanth-l-bounces at lists.ysu.edu [urbanth-l-bounces at lists.ysu.edu] On Behalf Of Calliope77 at aol.com [Calliope77 at aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 12:06 AM
To: fkeles at maxwell.syr.edu; URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
Subject: Re: [URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics

Hi Fethi,

I have never actually had a participant specifically ask to use their real
name. If it did happen, I would likely discourage it. First, I don't think
an  IRB would approve of it. Also, the participant may not be aware of
future  consequences or repercussions of using their real name. They may not be
aware of  who will be able to access the study, where it may appear in future
 publications, etc. While it may depend on the research topic, I likely
would  tell my participant that I am ethically obligated to use pseudonyms.
However, I  have not seen any formal information on this. It is an interesting

Marni Finkelstein

In a message dated 7/29/2009 9:40:17 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
fkeles at maxwell.syr.edu writes:


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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