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 home >> educational resources >> getting started >> publications >> maritime folklife >> part 2

Documenting Maritime Folklife: An Introductory Guide

Part 2: How to Document

How to document:

Ethics

Ethics play a critical role in field research. Researchers must be truthful about the purpose of their inquiries and should ensure that information elicited from people does not cause them harm. Commitments given about maintaining the anonymity of informants or the confidentiality of information should always be honored. Researchers should be sensitive to the fact that many issues can be divisive within a community and that revealing certain kinds of information might result in a volatile situation. For example, divulging information about a man's fishing territories or about the code words he uses over the CB radio to let a kinsman know he has located a school of fish could interfere with his ability to earn an income. Although informants often reveal a great deal of private knowledge to the researcher, the researcher should not assume that this information is for public dissemination. Occasionally, the researcher will face the dilemma of choosing between accurately communicating the information that he or she has collected and the responsibility to the people from whom information has been acquired. Since there are no general guidelines that will resolve this dilemma in all cases, the researcher will have to rely on his or her sense of justice and honesty.1


Notes

1. For a detailed statement on professional ethics, see: American Anthropological Association, Professional Ethics: Statements and Procedures of the American Anthropological Association (Washington: American Anthropological Association, 1983).

 

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   September 30, 2014
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