According to the American Anthropological Association (AAA), "Anthropology is the study of humans, past and present." Given that people and their interactions are complex, the AAA has created guidelines and principles to support anthropologists in dealing with ethical situations such as getting permission from research subjects, sharing the information obtained, protecting confidentiality and managing intellectual property rights. The guidelines also govern interpersonal relationships, including those between professors and students or research collaborators.

History of the Code

The American Anthropological Association's Code of Ethics dates back to 1967, when the organization's Council of Fellows adopted the "Statement on Problems of Anthropological Research and Ethics." The 2012 Statement is the most recent update of this code and has seven principles which are designed to be used by anthropologists in their day-to-day work. While not enforceable, the goal is to help anthropologists navigate the complex situations they encounter in their research, academic careers and professional environments.

Principles of the Code

The seven principles are Do No Harm, Be Open and Honest Regarding Your Work, Obtain Informed Consent and Necessary Permissions, Weigh Competing Ethical Obligations Due Collaborators and Affected Parties, Make Your Results Accessible, Protect and Preserve Your Records, and Maintain Respectful and Ethical Professional Relationships.