The Kenyon College IRB recognizes two basic types of Oral History projects. After determining which type most closely fits or resembles your Oral History project, proceed to the link associated with that type of Oral History project. The purpose for which the information will be gathered and the approach to conducting interviews are key to the determination of whether an oral history project may be subject to human subjects protection regulations. Whether your project is determined to be exempt or not, Kenyon College believes ethics and ethical principles should govern all of our educational and research activities.
Ethical considerations apply to all oral history projects and should continue throughout the course of the project: from the first contact with an interviewee to preserving, sharing and disseminating the results of interviews.
Type 1: (Idiographic) Oral history information gathering activities, such as open ended interviews, that only document a specific historical event or the experiences of individualswithout intent to draw conclusions or generalize findings will be considered Type 1. This type of Oral History project WOULD NOT constitute "research" as defined in 45 CFR 46.102(d). Kenyon's IRB has determined that these projects may be "EXEMPT" from IRB regulation; however, the treatment of participants in oral history projects must conform to the standards of the Oral History Association. If your Oral History project falls into this category, please complete the simple Oral History Project Registration Form instead of completing a full IRB application.
Type 2: (Nomothetic) Systematic investigations involving a research plan which incorporates data collection, either quantitative or qualitative, and data analysis to answer a research question and/or are designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., designed to draw conclusions, inform policy, or generalize findings) WOULD constitute "research" as defined in 45 CFR 46.102(d). For example, knowledge gained from a study may be applied to populations outside of the specific study population. If your project falls into this category you are required to apply for a regular IRB review.
Oral History Archives or Repositories
Oral historians may establish archives or repositories of the narratives collected. When such archives are created and maintained at Kenyon College, the administrator of the archives shall post or disseminate in a clear and conspicuous manner a notice to potential users that use of the contents of the archives for purposes that would constitute human subjects research (e.g. to test hypotheses, draw conclusions, inform policy, or contribute to generalizable knowledge) may require IRB review and approval. Such posting or notice shall contain a web link or contact information for Kenyon's IRB.
Education of Oral Historians
Kenyon College faculty, students and staff members participating in an Oral History project should educate themselves with the principles and guidelines for "Human Subjects Research" as well as with the principles and standards of the Oral History Association and any other professional association for the discipline your project falls under.
Information on IRBs and Oral History
IRB - The Belmont Report sets forth the basic ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human subjects in research. This was issued by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, April 18, 1979. The basic principles informing the guidelines are respect for persons, beneficence and justice. Whether or not your project is Type 1 or Type 2, you should read and let the Belmont Report inform your oral history project development.
Oral History Association Home
From : Oral History Evaluation Guidelines , Oral History Association, Pamphlet Number 3. Adopted 1989, Revised Sept. 2000
Oral History Consent Template
Links to Other Association Ethics Codes
Institutional Review Blog Query "Oral History"