On Mon, May 2, 2016 at 10:56 PM, Oliver Keyes <ironho...@gmail.com> wrote:

> While *some* of research ethics comes from the medical world -
> particularly from the Belmont report and the Western-centric research
> atrocities of the last century - much of it does not. Things like the
> Zimbardo and Milgram experiments have had a marked impact on our
> conceptualisation of appropriate ethics and IRBs, and it is not
> unusual for institutions to even separate out behavioural and social
> studies from medical studies in training, IRB composition and expected
> practices.
> And yet the social sciences contain the same duties and
> responsibilities around ethical principles that medical studies do.
> The principles of confidentiality, of transparency to the participant,
> of the participant taking the lead in defining what is and is not
> acceptable. Ethical principles along these lines are a common and core
> part of the IRB process, if you're involving humans, regardless of the
> nature of that involvement. And I note that the current board contains
> (not to single him out, but simply because he is the best example
> Dariusz Jemielniak, full name *Dr*  Dariusz Jemielniak, who is an
> _ethnographer_, one of the social fields of study that pays very close
> attention to these things.
> So it is not as simple as "James's experiences were shaped by his
> medical background, other people did not have that". The need for
> ethical principles is enshrined in a lot of fields, including not just
> medicine, but those several other board members have as a background.
> This should have been a known. I agree that there is apparently an
> inadequacy in Board training, but I'm mostly amazed (and disappointed)
> that the people who wrote Denny's statement didn't twig that,
> actually, ethics in these areas are both paramount and much more
> complicated than just "well my legal duty says..." for the
> participants involved.

Please forgive me if it seemed like I was suggesting that research ethics -
and the centrality of the needs of subjects - were solely sourced from the
medical world. My point is that confidentiality of sensitive information is
an iron law in medicine, where the critical duty is owed to the person who
is the subject of the information. [My familiarity with these laws comes
from the U.S.; I am not specifically trained in the medical confidentiality
regime in Canada, but I suspect its laws are equivalent or stronger.] I
would expect this to be his initial frame of reference when it comes to
respecting the desire of confidentiality from a source providing sensitive

The key point here is that the critical duty that James' owed as a board
member was to the WMF; this duty is is not (solely) a matter of ethics but
a matter of law.  That this was not apparent to all board members upon
joining the board is a flaw in the board training process. I can see how a
misunderstanding or disagreement on the nature of this duty could lead to
difficulty between board members, but it still is a bit of a mystery to me
how it rose to the level of kicking James off the board altogether.
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