What the Dickens?
Since the beginning of the debate on limited confidentiality, we have drawn attention to the ethics committee’s lack of due diligence because, in the process of imposing its doctrine on SFU researchers, it had not obtained a formal legal opinion on confidentiality and privilege. Researchers might have different ideas about how far the ethical duty of confidentiality extends, but all researchers have a duty to protect it to the “full extent permitted by law.” What does that actually entail? Is it invoking privilege until one exhausts every legal mechanism, or is the bar set somewhere lower?
Ted Palys is a professor in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. His areas of research and teaching include research methods and the sociology of knowledge; relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and internationally; and the ethics and law of research confidentiality. He lives in Vancouver.
John Lowman is a professor in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. He studies prostitution, prostitution law, and prostitution law enforcement in Canada. Since 1997 he has written with Ted Palys extensively about the ethics and law of research confidentiality. He lives in Vancouver.