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Code of Ethics of the Slovak Archive of Social Data

The Code of Ethics of the Slovak Archive of Social Data (hereinafter referred to as SASD) is a set of ethical standards articulating aims, main principles for the functioning of the SASD archive, principles of archiving and user standards of work with archived data. These standards are based on the principles of honesty, transparency, professional as well as civic responsibility and are to ensure long-time functioning and meeting the aims of the SASD. The SASD provides conditions for preserving data from sociological researches carried out in Slovakia for future generations.

The SASD Code of Ethics is a part of principles and regulations of functioning of the Slovak Archive of Social Data. The Slovak Archive of Social Data is to be understood as people and institutions that are responsible for its functioning and that ensure the meeting of its goals. The SASD exists in a form of internet interface (web pages) as well as an archive of physically documented data and descriptions from researches.

General Principles

Ethical standards of the Slovak Archive of Social Data set up the basic frame for moral and responsible work with archived data from sociological researches and with the documentation related to the researches, for interpretation of results of archived data and for responsible management of the archive and copyright protection of researchers, authors of the design and structure of the SASD. This frame includes standards for developing correct relations with owners of archived data, users of the SASD services and principles of communication within the social sciences circles.

The SASD offers the general public an access to basic information about all archived surveys and to data from sociological researches, carried out in the Slovak Republic, for non-commercial use. By releasing the data and results of researches, the Archive contributes to promote awareness of the public and to enhance the quality and prestige of science. Non-commercial use means its application for teaching and research. Other purposes of use can be specified on the basis of agreement of potential data user in the User Agreement on Data Providing for Non-commercial Purposes.

The SASD is also intended for commercial and other research agencies and organisations as a basis for their communication with academic, scientific and research background and broader society by releasing the data from their researches according to the requirements of the SASD.

The SASD fulfils its goals for the sake of all citizens and organizations without any discrimination. The SASD deals with the third parts in an objective way, acts and makes decisions impartially. By following the standards of professional competence, scientific responsibility, political, religious and ideological impartiality, the SASD helps to create autonomous character of science in the Slovak Republic and contributes to preserving and maintaining these standards within the broader international context as well.

The SASD carries out the archiving of data from empirical sociological researches in electronic and print form according to international standards.

The SASD cares for the enforcement of fundamental ethical principles of social sciences, especially those that follow:
a) Principles of professional competence, i.e. the starting point of the approach is an assumption that the knowledge of any scientist is limited and that every man working in the field of science acknowledges the necessity of continuous education in order to preserve his or her professional competence.
b) Principle of integrity, i.e. the pieces of knowledge will be treated in an honest, just and respectful way towards other people, their professional activities, and to the outcomes of their work; it is assumed that the use of the knowledge shall not jeopardize the welfare of the others.
c) Principles of professional and scientific responsibility, i.e. acknowledging the SASD to be a part of broader scientific community, that accepts the principle of collegiality and cooperation, as well as a part of public life. It is based on an assumption of the public confidence in truthful, impartial and ethical work with research results.
d) Principles of respect of human rights, dignity, and diversity of individuals, cultures, ways of explaining the world, value systems, and methodological approaches in scientific study and research.
e) Principles of social responsibility of scientists towards local communities, scientific or not, in which they live and work. Results and outcomes should be made public and used in a way that they would contribute to the public welfare and promotion of the quality of social sciences.

1. Ethical Standards of Functioning and Development of the Archive

The Slovak Archive of Social Data preserves only those researches that were not carried out in contradiction with fundamental ethical standards of sociological research or those that follow professional ethical codes of work in researches within social sciences.

Sociological researches are based on public trust, which means that the research was carried out honestly, impartially and without any negative impact on the respondent and was based on a volunteer cooperative work of respondents.

Administrator of the SASD takes care of the copyright protection of the authors of structure and design of the SASD and of keeping the rules of relations towards the owners as well as towards the users of archived data. Administrator of the SASD provides public access to the archive by means of internet interface.

Administrator of the SASD ensures the protection of documentation and pieces of information concerning the researches together with archiving of data in order to prevent their loss and damage by their completing and storage in electronic (on CD media) as well as in print form.

Changes in the structure, design, and rules of functioning can be made by the administrator or operator of the SASD only on the basis of agreement with authors. This rule holds true for the period of five years since launching the SASD, i.e. till December 31, 2010.

2. Ethics of Work with Mental Ownership of Authors of Research at the Moment of Archivation

The Slovak Archive of Social Data ensures the storing and archiving of data in accordance with conditions, stipulated by the copyright holder for the research, that are not in contradiction with existing legislation and standards of professional responsibility. Copyright holder can determine the protection period for limiting the access to the data so that he or she can protect his or her intellectual contribution to the preparation, realisation, and evaluation of the research.

The SASD ensures the copyright protection, protects stored data against loss and damage, and makes public the authorship of different researches and contacts of institutions and principal investigators who can confer an exceptional access and use of data within the protection period.

The SASD ensures the content integrity of archived data and protects them against damage, loss, and all forms of manipulation, falsification, and censorship.

3. Ethics of Personal Data Protection

The SASD archives data files from empirical social researches in order to provide them for further non-commercial statistical or other methodologically correct treatment. The purpose of archiving is not the gathering of information of individual character, but first of all the anonymous statistical treatment of respondents' answers. In case of qualitative researches, the SASD will provide the protection of personal data according to the valid legislation. Therefore, all data that the SASD offers are anonymous. Personal data can be obtained only on condition that the respondent declares in writing his or her agreement with publishing the personal identifiers. Fundamental standards of the personal data protection are as follows:

  • Data files and their respective documentation offered to the public do not include any personal data (names, addresses, identification numbers, photos, etc.) on the basis of which one would be able to identify individual respondents of the research,
  • If some of the data within the data file enabled indirect identification of individual person, the data file is provided to the public in an anonymous way (these identifiers are removed or modified by means of categorisation),
  • Data files that cannot be anonymised will not be provided to public.

4. Ethics of Standards Concerning the Provision of Information and Data from Sociological Researches

In order to comply with the needs of non-commercial and scientific research, the access to information concerning archived researches and the access to selected data and their complete documentation is enabled directly (on-line) by means of internet. All data are available free of charge. Distribution format of the data is SPSS, documentation is accessible also in format DDI (Data Documentation Initiative), i.e. international standard of electronic archiving of research data that is compatible with other world archives.

Data are classified into categories according to the level of accessibility, or according to the limitations of accessibility set by the copyright holders or by the SASD. Conditions for obtaining the data by potential user are stipulated in the Accessibility Regulations according to the Categories of Archived Data.

Every acquisition of data from the SASD requires the User Agreement on Data Providing from the SASD concluded between the applicant and the SASD, which will include specific conditions of data provision, covering documentation, purpose of their use, user/institution and signature. As far as the data without accessibility limits are concerned it is possible, on the principle of trust, to fill in the Agreement via internet stating only the basic identification data and contact of the subscriber. Electronic form of the Agreement has a standard form and validity of a contract.

Standard conditions for using data from the SASD, to be found also in the Agreement on Data Provision, contain:

  • Requirement for keeping the stated purpose of data use,
  • Requirement of protection of respondent's personal data,
  • Duty to state respective quotations,
  • Interdiction of data distribution without contacting the SASD,
  • Duty to inform the SASD about works written and published on the basis of these data.

The SASD cannot be held accountable for validity and reliability of provided data nor for the interpretation that results from provided data.

Final Provisions

In case of violation of the copyright the SASD reserves the right to require compensation by all legal means that existing legislation offers.

In case of disagreement on the interpretation of regulations and ethical standards, the SASD, administrator of the Archive will set up a commission (with uneven number of members) out of the representatives of three different professional sociological institutions (one member for each of them) that will decide the interpretation by majority of votes. Decisions and interpretations of controversial provisions are to be done in terms of possible use of the decision in the future and its possible integration into the ethical principles of the by the SASD.

Compiled: Milan Zeman, Miroslav Tížik

Source: Code of Ethics (American Sociological Association), Code of Ethics of Research Practice (ESOMAR), Code of Ethics Film Archives and Film Archivists (FIAF)

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