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Our research ethics

Research ethics in the Department of Archaeology


The Department of Archaeology and the University of Cambridge are committed to

ensuring that all research activities undertaken by University employees or on

University premises involving human participation or personal data are undertaken in

a way that safeguards the dignity, rights, health, safety, and privacy of all those


The need for an ethical approach to research applies to everyone working under the

remit of or in connection with the Department of Archaeology and the McDonald

Institute (including all academics, undergraduates, postgraduates, visiting scholars,

research staff and academic staff). Everyone should consider any ethical issues

arising from their work, and seek to address these concerns in as sensitive a way as

possible. All should be aware of the University of Cambridge’s guidelines on Ethics in Research.

Ethical concerns in archaeological research may come under (but not be limited by)

the following areas :

1. Studies involving human tissue

2. Research involving living humans

(including but not limited to: working with informants, questionnaires, surveys,

interviews, participant observation, focus groups and archival research

involving correspondence about living individuals)

3. Research using materials acquired through the illegal antiquities trade

4. Surveillance: this includes very recent aerial photographs and satellite images

used only for archaeological features (i.e. post–2005).

5. Research using material (objects and/or collections as well as intangibles such as narratives, songs, oral histories) that has special symbolic, social, or

political significance for some people.

6. Data protection responsibilities

For more information, including guidance as to the process of applying for ethical approval, department members should go to:

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