Oral History Research Guidelines
In principle, Oral History is EXCLUDED from oversight by institutional
review boards like Hope College's HSRB. In practice "Oral History" is
a label that many investigators from different disciplines apply to research
projects using a variety of methodologies and with differing research
aims. Because some research identified as "Oral History"
may put human subjects at risk using methodologies that are NOT EXCLUDED
from review, Hope College's HSRB requires all investigators undertaking
Oral History Research to review the guidelines below and submit the appropriate
form to the HSRB.
Hope College recognizes two basic types of Oral History
Research: those that are EXCLUDED and those that are NOT EXCLUDED from
HSRB review. After determining the type that best fits your project,
use the form indicated below. The intent of the Principal Investigator
plays a large part in determining whether or not a particular Oral History
Research project is excluded from HSRB review.
Whether or not your project is excluded, Hope College believes ethics
and ethical principles should govern all of our educational and research
If the intent is to interview informants
who have a unique perspective on a particular historical event or way
life and/or the investigator
intends to let the informants' stories stand on their own as a "testimony"
or in an archive, with no further analysis, the research is most likely
Oral History that is EXCLUDED from HSRB review. Hope College's HSRB
has determined that this research WOULD NOT constitute "research" as
defined in 45 CFR 46.102(d). Nevertheless, the treatment of participants
History Research must conform to the standards of the Oral
History Association. If your project falls into this category,
please complete the simple HSRB
Oral History Project Registration Form using the new HSRB Online
Application Management System.
If, unlike in projects described above,
the investigator conducts the surveys or interviews with the intention
of comparing, contrasting, or
establishing commonalities between different segments or among members
of the same segment, it is clear that the investigator will draw generalized
conclusions from the results. This type of research is most likely Oral
is NOT EXCLUDED from HSRB review. Because such research
is designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g.,
designed to draw conclusions, inform policy, or generalize findings),
Hope College's HSRB has determined that it 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, please go to HSRB's
Decision Tree to determine what type of HSRB application to submit.
ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVES OR REPOSITORIES
Oral historians may establish archives
or repositories of the narratives collected. When such archives are created
and maintained at Hope College
(including the Joint Archives), 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
HSRB review and approval. Such posting or notice shall contain a web
link or contact information for Hope College’s HSRB.
EDUCATION OF ORAL HISTORIANS
Hope College faculty, students
and staff members participating in Oral History Research should educate
themselves with the ethical principles
and guidelines for "Human Subjects Research" as well as with
the ethical principles and standards of the Oral History Association
and any other professional association for the discipline under which
their project falls.
Oral History Association
History Association, Principles and Best Practices,
adopted October 2009