Each member of staff, and undergraduate and postgraduate students should be aware of the creation last academic year of a Departmental team who scrutinise any research being carried out by staff or students for any ethical implications. The Team (Ethics Peer Review Group) currently comprises Dr Robin Skeates and Dr Becky Gowland.
Every Member of Staff who is applying for a research grant MUST complete the Department’s Ethics and Data Protection Monitoring Form (on DUO) and submit this to Thelma Forster (Administrative Secretary, Finance and Research) with their research grant application for Departmental Approval. This also includes applications being submitted at other institutions where a staff member here is a Co-Investigator. The application is then reviewed by the Ethics Peer Review Group and passed back to the applicant in case of serious ethical issues that needs to be further addressed.
Each Research Student MUST complete the Department’s Ethics and Data Protection Monitoring Form (on DUO) in relation to their thesis, and submit the form to his/her supervisor for approval, before submitting it to Becky Gowland; this form must be completed at the beginning of the research and based on the anticipated work. If the nature of the work changes then a new form must be completed and approved before work commences. The application is then reviewed by the Ethics Peer Review Group and passed back to the applicant in case of serious ethical issues that need to be further addressed.
Each Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate MUST also complete the Department’s Ethics and Data Protection Monitoring Form (on DUO) in relation to their dissertation proposal and submit the form to his/her supervisor for approval, before submission to the Ethics Peer Review Group. The application is then reviewed by the Ethics Peer Review Group and passed back to the applicant in case of serious ethical issues that need to be further addressed.
Where there are ethical issues that cannot be resolved by the Ethics Peer Review Group, these will be forwarded to the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health Ethics Sub-Committee.
There are five areas that may be of concern in archaeological research:
(a) Surveillance: this includes very recent aerial photographs and satellite images used only for archaeological features (i.e. post-2005). The Faculty has accepted our position that surveillance is only an ethical issue if it is a current or contemporary practice
(b) Studies involving human remains
(c) Research using questionnaires and person surveys (for a statement of good practice, see the European Unions’ document ‘Ethics for Researchers’ (http://www.eurosfaire.prd.fr/7pc/doc/1174577397_ethics_for_researchers.pdf)
(d) Research using materials acquired through the illegal antiquities trade
(e) Archival research involving correspondence about living archaeologists
In any cases where the researcher is aware of ethical concerns under any of these, or other, headings, they should consult with the Ethics Peer Review Group before submitting their Form or proceeding further with their research.
Each individual takes responsibility for her/his conduct insofar as it follows the law of the country in which the archaeological activity takes place (principle of subsidiarity). This means finding out the legal position(s) with regard to teaching, fieldwork, excavation, preservation, ownership and storage of finds, etc. and taking active measures to support them.
• The Department endorses the codes of professional practice and conduct as formulated by the European Association of Archaeologists (http://www.e-a-a.org/codeprac.htm and http://www.e-a-a.org/eaacodes.htm) and the Institute of Field Archaeologists, for archaeology, the European Association of Archaeologists Principles of Conduct for archaeologists involved in contract archaeological work (http://www.e-a-a.org/EAA_Princ_of_Conduct.pdf ), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) (http://icom.museum/ethics.html) and the Museums Association Code of Ethics (http://www.museumsassociation.org/ma/10934) for museum archaeology.
• The Department endorses and actively supports the Policy on the Excavation, Conservation, the Display and Storage of Human Remains adopted by the signatories to the Vermillion Accord on Human Remains (1989: http://www.worldarchaeologicalcongress.org/site/about_ethi.php.#code2 ), and amplified in the Museum Ethnographers Group’s Guidelines on the Management of Human Remains (1991/1994: http://www.museumethnographersgroup.org.uk/ ), the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology’s Code of Ethics (http://www.babao.org.uk/index/ethics-and-standards), and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists’ Position Statement.
• The Department endorses and actively supports the Policy on the Illegal Looting and Export of Antiquities adopted by the Bogota Declaration (http://icom.museum/bogota_fr.html, French language) and as documented in the Report, “Stealing History” (http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/projects/iarc/research/illicit_trade.pdf) commissioned by the ICOM UK and The Museums Association.
• Members of the Department commit themselves to supporting colleagues in the countries where they work in strengthening the legal framework for the preservation of the national and international heritage.
• Members of the Department should ensure that their teaching and research conforms to the guidance on general ethical issues defined in the University’s Policy on Ethics.
Ethical considerations in teaching with archaeologically derived human skeletal remains
The Department of Archaeology regards teaching archaeology students about the value of studying human remains is a central part of their education. However, we view utilising human remains from archaeological sites for teaching as a privilege. We ensure that the remains are handled with due respect and care and, whilst most of this type of teaching occurs in the Fenwick Human Osteology Laboratory, at times (necessitated by timetabling) skeletal remains may be used for teaching in other Departmental Laboratories. If this is the case, our policy is to keep the remains covered when not in use to prevent unexpected contact, along with posting appropriate signage on laboratory doors.