The Controversy Surrounding Scarce 's Research Involving The American Sociological Association 's Code Of Ethics

The Controversy Surrounding Scarce 's Research Involving The American Sociological Association 's Code Of Ethics

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The controversy surrounding Scarce’s research involving the animal rights group, Animal Liberation Front—a radical environmental movement that raided Washington State University’s animal lab—set off a firestorm and eventual legal battle about the issue of confidentiality in research. It as well highlighted the power of the power of the state, and the inadequate power of the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) Code of Ethics. According to the ASA’s Code of Ethics, “sociologists have an obligation to ensure that confidential information is protected” (1999). However, from the perspective of the law, data collected during research that then becomes relevant to a case concerning criminal activity, must be provided by law if requested by a grand jury. Upon starting his Ph.D. at WSU, Scare, similar to a large number of sociologists also unaware of the Code of Ethics and unclear over the protections, or lack thereof, they hold as researchers in the field attempting to uphold the ASA’s mandate over keeping all information gathered in an investigation confidential, did not foresee the significant power of the state, and the unfortunate limited power of the code. As a result, it is imperative for sociologists to improve upon their understanding of the ASA’s Code of Ethics in order to fully comprehend the boundaries we have as researchers, as without this, researchers place themselves and their careers at significant risk. Moreover, it is crucial for the ASA and the government to recognize the need to adding appropriate safeguards for researchers working toward generating important information necessary to improve the knowledge base of the public, and ensuring the protection of academic freedom.
It is troubling to learn about the lac...


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...shall be done”, provides sociologists what may be thought of as a heuristic device to figuring out what to take into consideration prior to venturing out into the field to gather data from our participants. He also explicates the systemic problems within the legal system, and the inability of the code to circumvent such issues. As declared by the Code of Ethics, “Sociologists inform themselves fully about all laws and rules which may limit or alter guarantees of confidentiality” (1999). The laws and rules that sociologists and researchers must follow is not yet synonymous to the how First Amendment of the US constitution is being implemented, and until then, academic autonomy, particularly for qualitative researchers, will face substantial risk. The ASA must continue to actively demand respect and fair treatment by working toward legislative changes in government.

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