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The Biological Anthropology Field Experiences Web Survey: Now Live

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Field experiences are often what help an undergraduate decide whether or not to pursue biological anthropology, they determine the course of a graduate student’s dissertation, and they provide the data needed to launch grants and make tenure cases for faculty. Yet, because field experiences often occur in remote places, far from our universities, entirely different sets of norms may dictate our behavior and interactions with our peers.

Many biological anthropologists have begun to discuss the climate of their field sites, and how to create norms that are more welcoming, based on these two pseudonymous accounts of sexual harassment (here and here). While these private and public conversations have been productive, we want to open up the conversation more. We want to get a sense of the scope of the problem of the many different field experiences people have, in order to begin to move towards solutions.

We (Kate Clancy, Katie Hinde, Robin Nelson and Julienne Rutherford) invite you to participate in our Biological Anthropology Field Experiences Web Survey. The Biological Anthropology Field Experiences Web Survey is designed to solicit input on the ways in which fieldwork does or does not provide a safe scholarly and research environment for all. Rather than determining the total number of instances, or percentage risk of a negative experience, our interest is in gathering stories to inform Field Directors, faculty mentors, and other researchers and students on the scope of the problem, and identify some of the main contributory factors to a negative environment, both to encourage improvement and to identify future areas for research.

If you’re over 18 and have ever done research or been a student at a bio anthro field site, please take 20 minutes to fill out our survey.You can indicate interest at the end in participating in a follow-up phone interview. You can also enter the lottery at the end for a 1 in 10 chance of winning a $25 Amazon gift card.

We hope the results of this research will stimulate a broader conversation about mentoring, fieldwork, and support of students and peers. We believe this research has enormous benefit to the discipline, as creating a safer space for research will encourage more diverse people to pursue science, and more diverse perspectives.

Thank you so much and we look forward to hearing from you. Please make sure to share and distribute this among people you know who would benefit from sharing their experiences in the field.

This human subjects research has been approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board.

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. anthro_girl 8:27 pm 02/21/2013

    Took the survey! Also I just saw that, appropriately, you’re giving a talk on the ethics of field site management at the AAPAs. Looking forward to it!

    Link to this
  2. 2. Steve99 1:51 pm 03/10/2013

    Done the survey.

    Link to this

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