[Corpora-List] Ethical review of spoken corpus collection

Susana M. Sotillo sotillos at mail.montclair.edu
Tue Apr 5 18:35:01 CEST 2011

I meant to send this to the list: IRB requirements are indeed restrictive for audio, video, and text.  I collected SMS text messages with IRB approval, but I had to delete all identifying information from the data.  I also had to obtain signed consent from the parents of teenagers.  Furthermore, several of those who kindly downloaded their messages and contributed  to the development of my specific type of  SMS corpus requested that I give them copies of any articles published based on the data they had contributed.  I complied with all the requirements, but all these obstacles are discouraging many from undertaking innovative research.  After all, most of us are not involved in invasive medical experiments.

I find it very interesting that all these restrictions apply to us but not to others.  For example, under the pretext of suspecting someone of terrorism or whatever, law enforcement operatives can have access to our text messages and emails.  I witnessed this first hand last April in my town where a police officer read email messages sent from one councilwoman to another.  These were tactics used to destroy a political candidate's credibility.  I felt very sorry for the women embroiled in this dispute because of the private content of the messages.  The behavior of these so-called officers was despicable.  Unfortunately, lots of people (e.g., state legislators) can have access to our emails if we use local or state resources (local government email addresses).  They do not have to comply with any research requirements when making these data publicly available. 

----- Original Message ----- From: Janne Bondi Johannessen <jannebj at iln.uio.no> Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 12:16 pm Subject: Re: [Corpora-List] Ethical review of spoken corpus collection To: Brett Reynolds <brett.reynolds at humber.ca> Cc: Corpora List <Corpora at uib.no>

> We have similar restrictions in Norway. All corpora containing audio
> and video are considered to contain sensitive data, and we are not
> supposed to use the corpus data for other purposes than have been
> planned and, importantly, conveyed to the informants beforehand. The
> person protection law is very strict for corpora that contain no
> secrets and no personal information (except the fact that the
> informants can be recognised).
> However, we have managed to find a solution that seems to work - in
> cooperation with the state institution that deals with the
> person act
> and research data. We have agreed with them that if we tell the
> informants whose speech will be part of a corpus that the goal for
> this particular research project is to develop a speech corpus for
> linguistic research, then it is the corpus that is the research
> project rather than particular research questions. We also do
> not have
> to dispose of the data when the project is finished because we have
> given the project a very long life time - eternal.
> In our country, too, there are very strict laws for researchers, while
> anything can be done legally in the name of art, for example extremely
> revealing and damaging documentaries about individual people.
> Janne Bondi Johannessen.
> 2011/4/5 Brett Reynolds <brett.reynolds at humber.ca>:
> > We have what appears to me to be a rather restrictive ethical
> review policy based on the this document:
> <http://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca/pdf/eng/tcps2/TCPS_2_FINAL_Web.pdf>, and I'm sure others face similar constraints. It requires among other things, that people from whom data is gathered be notified of the particular research purposes for which that data will be used (no "such as" allowed). It also requires that contributors be able to withdraw at any point. Finally, it typically requires that data be destroyed after the study is completed, although it does allow that research ethics boards "should not automatically impose a requirement that researchers destroy the research data. Stored information may be useful for a variety of future purposes."
> >
> > I find it very strange that these onerous requirements do not
> apply to staff doing PR, organizational research (for internal
> use), journalism, or art, all of whom are trusted to gathering
> the same type of data as researchers without oversight, but
> that's another issue.
> >
> > These requirements obviously have implications for anyone
> compiling a corpus of spoken language, especially if one were to
> make that corpus publicly available, as, for example Mark Davies
> has done with his written corpora. Has anyone run up against
> this, and, if so, how did you deal with it?
> >
> > Best,
> > Brett
> >
> > -----------------------
> > Brett Reynolds
> > English Language Centre
> > Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
> > Toronto, Ontario, Canada
> > brett.reynolds at humber.ca
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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> --
> Janne Bondi Johannessen
> Professor, The Text Laboratory, ILN, http://www.hf.uio.no/tekstlab/
> President, NEALT, http://omilia.uio.no/nealt/
> University of Oslo
> P.O.Box 1102 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
> Tel: +47 22 85 68 14, mob.: +47 928 966 34
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