Friday, September 3, 2010

Oral Historians Open Discussion on Principles and Best Practices

As noted on this blog, in October 2009, the Oral History Association replaced its Evaluation Guidelines with a new set of Principles and Best Practices. The new guidelines are considerably clearer in format, and they distance oral history from the biomedical assumptions of the Belmont Report.

Now the Oral History Association is further distancing itself from the Belmont Report by opening an ongoing discussion of the principles, including suggestion for additional revisions. Whereas the Belmont Report was prepared by a small group of people and has not been amended since 1978, the OHA Principles can remain a living document, revised in response to a discussion that is open to all.

Hat tip: AHA Today.


Alan said...

"...the biomedical assumptions of the Belmont Report". Such as?

The distinctions and ethical principles outlined in the Report have broad applicability to both biomedical and behavioral science.

Zachary M. Schrag said...

See my earlier post on the OHA Principles and Chapter 4 of Ethical Imperialism.


Alan said...

I haven't got a copy of your book but don't see how the earlier post answers the question. In the post you talk about the "biomedical concerns of risk/benefit analysis and equitable selection of subjects". And why aren't these concerns applicable to most social and behavioral science? I don't have an argument with you about the general lack of applicability of the Belmont Report, 45CFR46 etc. to historical research but, as a social scientist, it feels to me that you to engage in a little "ethical imperialism" of your own on this issue.

Zachary M. Schrag said...

Thanks for your comment. The two posts specifically concern the newly revised principles agreed upon by oral historians, not "most social and behavioral science."

I do not know your own discipline (or last name), so I am unable to comment on whether it has embraced risk/benefit analysis and equitable selection of subjects as criteria for ethical research. I can say that the various disciplines have their own ethical traditions, and that the authors of the Belmont Report almost wholly ignored these, investigating only the ethics of medical and psychological research.