ORGANIZE THIS! Data management for Anthropology at the AAA

Looks like I’m heading to AAA again, this time with an invited media session.  I hope to see you there!

Download a panel abstract: aaa16_panel-abstracts-final.

ORGANIZE THIS!: Data management for anthropology in the digital age, preserving our evidence for future discovery (View at AAA Website)

Friday, November 18, 4:00pm

2016 American Anthropological Association, Minneapolis, MN. November 2016

Dr. Jerome Crowder, Institute for the Medical Humanities, U. Texas Medical Branch
Dr. Richard Freeman, Smathers Libraries, University of Florida

As anthropology has moved into the 21st century, the transition from analog to digital has had profound effects on how anthropologists conduct their work and subsequently how their data are managed (recorded, analyzed, preserved). In this panel we consider the future of our research and scholarship, our evidence and discovery, and how we continue to engage with our data and productions. From requests for data management plans to archiving textual, visual and audio data, we consider how to deal with our anthropological digital evidence and the many accidents that can befall our research and the data we collect, analyze and store. This panel seeks contributors who can speak to their specific work regarding organization, preservation, metadata cores, access and retrieval (public and/or personal or selected group), archiving and policies at individual, institutional and federal levels.

Because anthropology focuses on the human engagement with others it is more important than ever to intelligently manage our electronic data. More than with analog materials, digital files can be widely disseminated and harder to control. Things that should not be made public too often are. This is simultaneously one of its many benefits, it can be easily shared with a few colleagues, one’s subject group, or thousands of interested researchers and inquisitive members of the public. In fact, sharing data and findings with the public and data management schema is now a component in all government research grant applications. Understanding how to manage our digital data is not an afterthought.


Is Ethnographic Evidence Public or Private? Opportunities and Challenges to Contemporary Data Sharing Requirements with American Indian Tribes

Dr. Sean Bruna, Department of Anthropology, Western Washington University

In 2003, the National Institutes of Health published the final requirements and guide for data sharing, explaining that data sharing is “essential for expedited translation of research results into knowledge, products and procedures to improve human health.” Many medical anthropologists and university IRBs, however, balk at the NIH requirement and either limit or completely embargo ethnographic data because of concerns regarding privacy and anonymity of research populations. As is argued, such data, and the evidences produced, are protected under federal HIPAA requirements, or at a minimum, anthropologically oriented ethical norms regarding anonymity. At the same time, many tribal nations, including the nation I partner with for health-based community-based participatory research, require that research partners submit all data collected to tribal archives at the conclusion of studies, often without specific guidelines regarding format or privacy restrictions. I argue that data sharing, new as it is to cultural anthropology, presents an opportunity to decolonize the discipline’s ongoing trend of knowledge extraction by challenging our notions of control, ownership and management of ethnographic data. However, long-term sharing of ethnographic data in tribal archives presents unique ethical and infrastructural challenges to preservation and access, particularly when striving to accommodate tribal requirements in the context of IRB and HIPAA regulations. In light of these concerns, this paper discusses the vague data sharing requirements I agreed upon with a partnering tribe, disentangles specific ethical and infrastructural challenges to meeting the requirement, and presents policy solutions for future ethnographic data sharing with tribal communities.

ORGANIZE THIS! Data management for Anthropology at the AAA