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Ethics and Proposal Approval for Anthropology Thesis and Essay Projects

All Anthropology majors wishing to write a thesis or essay involving fieldwork with human subjects must submit the Questionnaire on Ethics. All Anthropology majors wishing to write a thesis must submit the thesis proposal. Both are due the Friday before Spring Break. All documents should be emailed to drak@wesleyan.edu.

The Anthropology Department’s Ethics and Review Committee is composed of all faculty members in residence in any given spring semester.

ETHICS REVIEW

There are four possible outcomes:

Approval: The Department’s Ethics and Review Committee judges that the research poses no risk or minimal risk to its participants and does not involve research with vulnerable populations (all definitions available on the Ethics Questionnaire).

Revise and resubmit: If the proposal poses no risk or only minimal risk and involves no vulnerable populations, but one or more committee members find any of the student’s answers to the Ethics questionnaire to be insufficient, the student will be asked to revise, clarify, or expand the questionnaire and resubmit. Resubmitted ethics proposals are due on the last day of classes in the Sp. semester.  The committee will review the proposal again upon resubmission.

Redirect to Wesleyan’s IRB: If the Committee judges the proposal to pose more than minimal risk and/or to involve vulnerable populations, the student will be asked to redirect their proposal for IRB review following the Board’s own process and procedures. A proposal will be redirected to the IRB only if the committee believes that the project is thoughtfully conceived and that, despite the more-than-minimal risks, it can be implemented in an ethical way. Any project that has received funding from extra-mural sources or that is to be conducted at another university will be redirected to the IRB, after review by the Department.

Rejection: Permission to carry out research under the auspices of the Anthropology Department will be denied if committee members agree that the project cannot be implemented in an ethical way. Proposals may be rejected if they are deemed to pose risks of physical harm to participants (as is the case in biomedical research) or involve experimental methods that manipulate information given to participants (as in withholding information from or actively deceiving participants). Proposals could also be rejected if it is not possible to guarantee that records and materials in archeological research will be preserved.

THESIS PROPOSAL REVIEW

There are four possible outcomes:

Approval: The Department’s Ethics and Review Committee judges that the research is well-conceived, feasible, and appropriate for a thesis project, and that all necessary preliminary research has been undertaken. The Thesis is approved.

Revise and resubmit: If the Committee finds the project promising, but one or more committee members find any aspect of the Thesis proposal insufficient, unclear, or unfeasible, the student will be allowed to revise, clarify, or expand the proposal and resubmit based on Committee feedback. Resubmitted thesis proposals are due by the last day of classes in the Sp. semester. The committee will review the proposal again upon resubmission.

Conversion to Essay: If the Committee finds the project promising, but not appropriate in scale, topic, or student preparation for a thesis, the Committee will recommend that the student undertake the research as an Essay project.

Rejection: Permission to carry out thesis research under the auspices of the Anthropology Department will be denied if committee members agree that the project is not valuable or feasible or that it cannot be implemented in an ethical way.

Students whose projects are under review by the Anthropology Department’s Ethics and Review Committee will be assigned a faculty mentor. Ordinarily, the mentor will relay the committee’s feedback to the student, including requests for revision. The student is expected to contact the mentor if any ethical or other questions arise during fieldwork.