Tag Archives: ethics

Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology

A digital archive of material related to an American Psychological Association questionnaire on research ethics issued between 1968 and 1970 has been launched online. This resource, the Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology has been put together under the leadership of Jill Morawski and Laura Stark, both of Wesleyan University. Although the material for the digital archive is still under development, several sample surveys are currently available on the site, both as transcriptions and as digital images (as pictured at left). The Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology is described as follows:

Between 1968 and 1970, more than 3,000 psychologists wrote to leaders of the American Psychological Association and described instances of ethically questionable research. The psychologists were responding to a questionnaire that the APA mailed to two-thirds of its members—19,000 psychologists in all. The organization used psychologists’ stories to update its ethics code in 1973.

The stories offer a vivid, panoramic view of American psychology in the decades after World War II from the perspectives of students, practitioners, and human subjects of research. The Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology is creating an electronic repository of the responses in two formats: as transcribed text documents, and as digital images. As of October 2010, transcription of the first wave of the questionnaire responses (comprising 1,000 responses) is complete. Continue reading Wesleyan Digital Archive of Psychology

Will Oral History Become Subject to IRB Oversight?

Traditionally, the work of historians has been exempt from oversight by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), which examine and approve (or not) scientific research on the basis of guidelines for the ethical treatment of the research participants. The justifications for exempting history have been (1) the IRB mandate does not extend to the humanities and (2) there are typically no living participants in historical research (as there often are in, say, medicine or psychology). The one gray area has been oral history, in which living people are interviewed about their own lives. In 2003 the US government’s Office of Human Research Protections officially exempted most oral history projects. That exemption is now being reconsidered and the government is asking for submissions from historians about the possible change in status. A letter on the matter from Amy Crumpton of the Archives of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was recently sent to all members of the History of Science Society. This letter is copied below in full. Continue reading Will Oral History Become Subject to IRB Oversight?