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Hi Deborah, I'd go further than Bill about what is appropriate to share. I think it's important that you point out to your IRB that we should distinguish between field notes and preliminary findings. For the record, IRBs make stipulations that are conditional for approval; they are not rulings. Further, and more important, an investigator can provide a rebuttal to each stipulation explaining why making a change is not appropriate in this study, and providing adequate rationale and precedent if you can. Of course, then it is the IRBs right to accept or reject that rebuttal and require the stipulation be met. So it matters to have a collegial relationship with your IRB and that often requires cross-education and awareness but it's definitely worth it. (I am a medical anthropologist who conducts ethnographic and other qualitative research at an academic medical center, I serve on the IRB, and I currently have active research protocols.) Field notes are raw data, much like a lab notebook in bench science. Raw data is private and not appropriate to share, precisely because lay people draw conclusions from looking at fieldnotes that pre-empt the anthropological analysis. Sharing raw field notes during an active (in process) study is really only appropriate for a safety/audit process: that is, the IRB can request to review your field notes for example if there was a concern about confidentiality and you needed to explain what precautions you were taking. But generally field notes should not be available for review by informants on a required or routine basis. The whole point of protecting raw field notes is so that ONLY the anthropological team sees the raw data and no one makes assumptions about their observations: not informant's colleagues, not informant's supervisors etc. To make them available creates both a chilling effect on your ability to collect data, and can in fact promote misunderstanding because it is raw data. As Bill indicated, if on an individual basis, the anthropologist wants to offer to share a selection of fieldnotes to an informant, either for confirmatory purposes or to assuage informant concerns about being observed, then that is more than appropriate. I have given informants an example of what field notes look like, in the course of explaining my study, seeking oral consent etc. But my IRB would never ask me to share raw data with informants. The stipulation to share ethnographic data with informants generally refers to intermediate conclusions, when you are in the analysis process and seek confirmatory analysis, to check reliability or validity. This is both about rigor, and about rapport of course. Our subjects are not mice, we obviously have an obligation to them to help them understanding what we are seeing. But at the raw data stage, sharing field notes is misleading and can create bias (in the data sense) as well as run real risk of mis-communicating the process. And as Bill points out, it risks losing confidentiality as one informant sees fieldnotes about another. Sharing copies of an interview transcript with the individual interviewee is very different from fieldnotes and I routinely make that provision in my protocols. - Simon ------ H-MedAnthro: H-Net Network on Medical Anthropology To post messages to the list, send them to: email@example.com Network page: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~medanthro/ Society for Medical Anthropology website: http://www.medanthro.net/ To manage your subscription, visit: http://www.h-net.org/lists/subscribe.cgi ------ H-MedAnthro: H-Net Network on Medical Anthropology To post messages to the list, send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org Network page: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~medanthro/ Society for Medical Anthropology website: http://www.medanthro.net/ To manage your subscription, visit: http://www.h-net.org/lists/subscribe.cgi