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Research & Ethics in Field Study & Internships

Students’ first responsibility is to those whose lives and cultures they study (please refer to the Human Subjects Review policy below). Should conflicts of interest arise, the interests of the human subjects take precedence over other considerations, including the success of the field study or Independent Study Project. If the study has negative repercussions for any members of the target culture, the project cannot be considered a success. Students must do everything in their power to protect the dignity and privacy of the people with whom they conduct field study.

The rights, interest, safety, and sensitivities of those who entrust information to students must be safeguarded. Students may not realize the risk that participants may take by taking part in the student’s research. Students should endeavor to understand and appreciate the role of their human subjects. The right of those providing information to students either to remain anonymous or to receive recognition is to be respected and defended. It is the responsibility of students to make every effort to determine the preferences of those providing information and to comply with their wishes. It should be made clear to anyone providing information that despite the students’ best intentions and efforts, anonymity may be compromised or recognition may fail to materialize. Students should not reveal the identity of groups or persons whose anonymity is protected through the use of pseudonyms.

Students must be candid from the outset in the communities where they work about the fact that they are students. The aims of their study projects should be clearly communicated to those among whom they work. Students must acknowledge the help and services they receive. They must recognize their obligation to reciprocate in culturally appropriate ways. Students must take into account and, where relevant and to the best of their ability, make explicit the extent to which their own personal and cultural values affect their field study. To the best of their ability, students have an obligation to assess both the positive and negative consequences of their field study. They should anticipate any possible consequences and inform individuals and groups likely to be affected.

Students must not represent as their own work, either in speaking or writing, materials or ideas directly taken from other sources. They must give full credit in speaking or writing to all those who have contributed to their work.

Students should be honest and candid in all dealings with their own institutions and with host institutions. They should ascertain that they will not be required to compromise either their responsibilities or ethics as a condition of permission to engage in field study. They will return copies of their study to SIT Study Abroad and, in consultation with their academic director, may be required to submit copies to other sponsoring institutions and to the community that hosted them.

All final Independent Study Project proposals must reflect a thoughtful and culturally appropriate consideration of the effects of the inquiry on the participants. To that end, students will be required to submit a Review of Research with Human Subjects application form that includes questions about any potential harm that might occur as a result of the study; appendices to the form should include interview and survey protocols. If the academic director believes that the concerns of this policy have not been sufficiently addressed, they may require a revision of the proposal. Standards for this Human Subjects Review policy are developed in country and reflect local academic practice. Completion of the Review of Research with Human Subjects application occurs during the SIT Study Abroad program and is a standard part of ISP preparation. All ISP proposals are submitted to Local Review Board for approval. The Local Review Board may expedite the review, suggest minor changes or recommend full review by SIT Institutional Review Board. However, if the Local Review Board deems a research proposal unfeasible in-country because of local laws, value systems or other safety concerns, the student will be asked to change or amend the nature of the research proposal to meet the recommendations of the Local Review Board.

In the event that a student’s research has been funded by a US government agency or if a student plans to take research back to their home school or community for further dissemination, more stringent standards must be followed, i.e., not only those of the host community, but also those of the Office for Human Resource Protections, with which SIT Study Abroad is registered. Any questions or concerns will be forwarded to SIT’s Institutional Review Board for consideration. A student’s home school may have its own procedure to follow regarding Human Subjects Review, and SIT Study Abroad recommends that students check in with their home study abroad office and academic advisor prior to the start of the program.

School for International Training – Human Subjects Review Application Form

Student research (Independent Study Project, Field Study Project) is a product of field work and as such students have an obligation to assess both the positive and negative consequences of their field study. Ethical field work, as stipulated in the SIT Study Abroad Policy on Ethics, results in products that are shared with local and academic communities; therefore copies of ISP/FSPs are returned to the sponsoring institutions and the host communities, at the discretion of the institution(s) and/or community involved.

  1. When students submit the ISP/FSP to the academic director, World Learning/SIT Study Abroad archives it in the permanent collection at the SIT Study Abroad local country program office and/or at any World Learning office.
  2. In some cases, partner institutions, organizations, or libraries in the host country house a copy of the ISP/FSP in their own national, regional, or local collections for enrichment and use of host country nationals.
  3. World Learning/SIT Study Abroad may publish the ISP/FSP in the SIT Digital Collections, housed on World Learning’s public website. As a published document World Learning/SIT Study Abroad is able to provide open access to the ISP/FSP with interested members of the World Learning community and the broader public who will be able to access it through ordinary Internet searches.

Students retain ALL ownership rights of his or her project. Students retain the right to use all, or part, of the project in future works.

World Learning/SIT Study Abroad has a non-exclusive, perpetual right to store and make available, including electronic online open access, to the ISP/FSP. World Learning/SIT Study Abroad may archive, copy, or convert the ISP/FSP for non-commercial use, for preservation purposes, and to ensure future accessibility.

World Learning/SIT Study Abroad websites and SIT Digital Collections are publicly available via the Internet. World Learning/SIT Study Abroad is not responsible for any unauthorized use of the ISP/FSP by any third party who might access it on the Internet or otherwise. Students may choose to withdraw permission to publish ISP/FSPs to library collections, however doing so may constitute an infringement of the SIT Study Abroad Policy on Ethics. Students who choose to withdraw permission are to provide the reasons for doing so and the program Academic Director will review for compliance.

When SIT Study Abroad determines that a student has violated SIT’s statement of ethics, the student will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the program.