Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AHA Posts ANPRM Talking Points

The American Historical Association (AHA) has issued a set of "talking points" to "invite comments and concerns from members as we craft our response, and as a guide to historians and related specialists looking to craft their own response to the federal proposal."

Robert B. Townsend, "Oral History and Information Risk: A Response to the Federal Proposal," AHA Today, 17 October 2011.

The main argument is for "the full exclusion of oral history from IRB oversight," rather than its incorporation into the proposed "Excused" category. In addition, the talking points warn that new proposals for the use of existing data could set "an impossibly high bar for the future use of archival or public use data sources will seriously inhibit our understanding of the past, including future projects that would hold scientists accountable for their misuse of research subjects (such as the recent study exposing U.S. research practices in Guatemala in the 1940s) . . ."

The AHA has not yet drafted a formal comment, which will, I hope, translate these broad points into responses to specific questions in the ANPRM. But historians can use the talking points to alert regulators to the key issues involved.

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