Institutional Review Boards and Anthropology

The federal regulations for the protection of human subjects were originally developed to prevent harm to participants in biomedical research, but they apply to all research involving human participants that is supported by the federal government. Known as “the Common Rule,” these regulations are also frequently applied to all research involving human participants done at an institution, regardless of funding source. The Common Rule often affects ethnographic 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 Resources for Anthropologists on Ethics and IRBs