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Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology

Guidelines, protocols & Policies

The Institute CADS adheres to and teaches an approach to research ethics and integrity that emphasizes the processual nature of informed consent, situational ethics, and the indispensability of continually updating the ethical tradition in international anthropology in all the work of its researchers and students.

More information about the etical guideliness of our Institute, our Data Management Policy, the Ethics Review Committee of the Facutly of Social Sciences and the Protocol for Ethnographic Research in times of COVID-19 can be found on this website. Also information for visiting scholars is added below. 

If you can't find the information you are looking for regarding the topics below, please send an email to secrcaos@fsw.leidenuniv.nl. Our secretary can address your questions to the person in charge. 

Leiden staff members are expected to be familiar with Dutch Code of Ethics for the Social and Behavioural Sciences, which provides guidelines for research in the social and behavioural sciences involving human participants. This Code, as well as those mentioned below, do not dictate measures and procedures for all researchers of all disciplines at all times but offers general ethical principles that require critical assessment and deliberation in order to be applied in concrete cases.

The Code is supplemented by discipline-specific ethical guidelines and codes such as the ASA Ethical Guidelines 2011 of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth (ASA), and the 2009 Code of Ethics’ of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Ethical Guidelines of the Dutch Anthropological Association (ABV). These codes concern the responsibility towards the people being studied; the responsibility of researchers regarding scholarship and science; responsibility to the public; responsibility in teaching and in dissemination; and they outline how ethics needs to be applied.

All empirical research carried out by Leiden CADS staff members follows the Regulations Ethics Review and is evaluated by the Faculty’s Ethics Review Committee for the Social Sciences, chaired by CADS colleague Erik Bähre.

The department of CADS adheres to the Leiden University Research Data Management Regulations and to the Universities of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.


The Leiden Statement on Data Management for Anthropologists, drawn up by a committee chaired by Prof. Peter Pels in 2015, offers our response to data management policies and has mobilized widespread and active support among anthropologists internationally.

It argues that the co-production of knowledge is the foundation of both science and ethics. This means that ethical questions are part of our data gathering from the very start, and ethics and integrity are firmly imbricated (see: Pels et al (2018); Dilger, Pels and Sleeboom-Faulkner (2019), De Koning, Meyer, Moors and Pels (2019); the EASA statement on Data Governance or see the Leiden Anthropology blog entry devoted to it. 

Anthropological data are not stored in excel sheets or databases, but in the form of lengthy written texts that span multiple hand-written notebooks or digital files (e.g. word docs, photos, film, audio-recordings). These data require contextualization to be intelligible to other researchers because: a. they reflect a human relationship between researcher and research participants that shapes the context in which the data was gathered; b. each notebook, or text, cannot be easily understood without triangulation across multiple notebooks/devices/personal archives, which cannot all be made available due to the risk of breach of privacy (lack of anonymity), and c. without deep knowledge of the research context, of the broader social situation/conversation/physical location in which the notes were gathered, and of the specific research participants the data cannot be accurately interpreted.

These principles translate into various elements for a data management policy that include open access publishing where possible, confidentiality and safety for research participants, and transparency about use and storage of data.

The data management policy of CADS applies to all researchers working on projects that are initiated by the department and/or conducted under the aegis of the department. This includes retired colleagues, fellows, and scholars who bring their own projects into the department.

As of June 2019, new Ph.D. students write up a data management plan in the context of mandatory training provided by the university library. All other research staff are required to submit and discuss the DMP with their supervisors in an annual Performance & Development conversation.

More information

For more information you can download our full Data Management Policy document and Appendix Informed Consent. 

List of reference

Pels, P., Boog, I., Henrike Florusbosch, J., Kripe, Z., Minter, T. and, Postma, M. (2018). Data management in anthropology: the next phase in ethics governance? Social Anthropology, 26(3),391-413.

Dilger, H., Pels, P., & Sleeboom-Faulkner, M. (2019). Guidelines for data management and scientific integrity in ethnography. Ethnography20(1), 3-7.

 De Koning, M., Meyer, B., Moors, A., & Pels, P. (2019). Guidelines for anthropological research: Data management, ethics, and integrity. Ethnography20(2), 170-174.

The Committee’s main task is to review research proposals on criteria concerning ethically responsible scientific conduct within the Institutes of Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology, Political Science and the Centre of Science and Technology Studies. The conditions and principles applied by the Committee are set out in the Regulations Ethics Review Committee Social Sciences that have been drawn up for this purpose. 

Go to the Ethics Review Committee Social Sciences website. 

This document was motivated by the global outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic considerably hinders anthropologists engaging in the core aspect of their research: the practice of ethnographic research, at home or abroad, but almost always in locations outside the Faculty.

Protocol for Ethnographic Research in times of COVID-19

CADS regularly employs guest staff. These are researchers who are involved in CADS because of their own expertise. Upon request and for a certain period of time, guest fellowships can be provided to those who conduct research that is closely related to the specific CADS interests: diversity, sustainability, digitisation, and our signature methodology. During a guest fellowship, the researchers work together with members of the institute or contribute to one of the research projects. 

For research carried out by visiting scholars with the affiliation of CADS, a Data Management Plan must be submitted to the institute. Visiting scholars are expected to be intensively involved with the institute when they are in Leiden. This can be done, for example, by occasionally giving a research seminar, or providing a guest lecture for our (PhD) students. 

It is good practice for a new guest employee to send an introduction e-mail to all employees of the institute. In this mail they introduce themselves and explain what kind of research they are going to do or why they are working with the institute.  At the end of the visit, they send a short report to the board in which they tell what the visit has brought them.

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