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Institutional Review Boards and Anthropology

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Over the past several years in response to deaths and harm to participants in biomedical research, the federal government, institutions of higher learning and others have taken steps to ensure that research involving human participants comply with the federal regulations governing the protection of human subjects or participants in research. The regulations, originally developed with the intent to govern higher risk biomedical research, apply to all research involving human participants supported by the federal government. In many instances, institutions of higher learning and others who undertake research require that the regulations, known as "the Common Rule," apply to all research, private or public, involving human participants. The Common Rule affects, among others, ethnographic research and related social science research.

The American Anthropological Association has been active in responding to federal activities related to human research protections, as well as addressing anthropologists’ queries about complying with their home institution’s Institutional Review Board policies.

AAA Statement on Ethics

Complex Ethics Cases

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