[URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics

David Houston dlrh at uvm.edu
Thu Jul 30 11:09:26 EDT 2009

You raise an interesting point.

I've been indirectly asked - "hinted" might be the term.

At the same time, I *know* the IRB I am under would be horrified and, 
while I have not scoured the volumes that they have that detail every 
modicum of "what I must do and not do", I would be surprised if there were 
NOT something in their rules that specifically enjoins me from using real 
names under any circumstances.

Thus, my response to informants is not one of "you just don't understand" 
but rather "I might get into trouble if I did that".  I would not expect 
that they've read the "rule book" on this when I may not have read it all 

Having said that, this discussion is something that would be really useful 
to try and bring into the whole IRB process.  Are we NOT being ethical if 
our informants specifically ask that their name(s) be used?  And if that's 
the case, is it the jurisdiction of the IRB to simply overrule that?  If 
they do, aren't *they* violating ethical boundaries?

	David Houston
	University of Vermont
	Phone: (802) 656 2013
        "You are nestled in our hearts forever"

On Thu, 30 Jul 2009, Brian L Adams-Thies intoned:

BLA:Just to play devil´s advocate......I am a bit concerned that the notion that
BLA:informants don´t understand how or in what manner their information will be
BLA:used is in itself highly problematic.    Informants are just as capable of
BLA:understanding the repercussions of their participation as we, the
BLA:anthropologists, are.    Assuming that informants are somehow less imbued
BLA:with the logical capacity of understanding their decision smacks of
BLA:colonialism/power/domination.   In this world we live in I think it very
BLA:difficult to assume we, as anthropologists, are privvy to possible outcomes
BLA:to which our informants remain oblivious.
BLA:With that said, I think what everyone who has responded so far is indicating
BLA:is that this decision is contextual.    We should be explaining the risks of
BLA:using real names and engage in an extended conversation with informants
BLA:about this decision.   If, after that conversation, an informant demands
BLA:that their name be used then I don´t see how we can ethically anonymize
BLA:These thoughts are also off the top of my head and I am sure there are
BLA:people much more qualified to speak to the issue.
BLA:All my best,
BLA:Brian L. Adams-Thies, PhD
BLA:Assistant Professor - Anthropology
BLA:Department for the Study of Culture and Society
BLA:Drake University
BLA:Des Moines, IA
BLA:Email: Brian.Adams-Thies at drake.edu
BLA:Phone: 515.271.2936
BLA:----- Original Message ----- From: "Bascom Guffin" <mbguffin at ucdavis.edu>
BLA:To: <URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu>
BLA:Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:09 PM
BLA:Subject: Re: [URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics
BLA:> I would say that in the case of B (she/he doesn't care), I would still
BLA:> anonymize the informant. If they specifically ask that their names be
BLA:> mentioned, it becomes a tougher call. I know of one person who had DJs  as
BLA:> informants, and many of them asked that their real names (at least  their
BLA:> real DJ names) be used, because they saw it as an opportunity  for
BLA:> publicity. In this case, you might consider using their real names  to be
BLA:> a sort of reciprocation for the time and effort they've put in  to helping
BLA:> you out. But this researcher still ended up anonymizing  their sources,
BLA:> because informants made statements that the researcher  determined could
BLA:> be controversial. There may have been other aspects  to the researcher's
BLA:> reasoning as well. If the informants are public  figures, other
BLA:> considerations might also apply, in that there may be  good reason to use
BLA:> their real names, especially if it is overly  difficult to hide their
BLA:> identities. All this is off the top of my  head, and I am sure there are
BLA:> other members of the list who have given  this much deeper thought, and
BLA:> been directly faced with these practical  considerations. I too would be
BLA:> interested to hear what folks have to  say.
BLA:> Best,
BLA:> Bascom
BLA:> ----------------
BLA:> Bascom Guffin | PhD Candidate
BLA:> Department of Anthropology
BLA:> University of California, Davis
BLA:> mbguffin at ucdavis.edu
BLA:> On Jul 24, 2009, at 9:41 AM, Fethi Keles wrote:
BLA:> > Friends,
BLA:> > 
BLA:> > I would like to receive opinions on the following issue, if possible.
BLA:> > 
BLA:> > What most everyone does when we write things up is to change names  and
BLA:> > use pseudonyms etc. etc. But, what do you do if an informant a)
BLA:> > specifically asks to be identified with his/her actual name in your
BLA:> > study (book, article whatever) b) says s/he doesn't care/wouldn't  mind
BLA:> > if you were to use his/her actual name?
BLA:> > 
BLA:> > I feel the answer to this must be more than 'well go ahead and do as
BLA:> > s/he says', for there could be a whole lot of other implications if  one
BLA:> > does so. Any readings you would suggest? What courses of action  would
BLA:> > be on the table in the two cases above?
BLA:> > 
BLA:> > Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thank you.
BLA:> > 
BLA:> > Fethi Keles
BLA:> > PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology
BLA:> > Maxwell School
BLA:> > _______________________________________________
BLA:> > URBANTH-L mailing list
BLA:> > URBANTH-L at lists.ysu.edu
BLA:> > http://lists.ysu.edu/mailman/listinfo.cgi/urbanth-l
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