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Oral History and Research Data Management

RuthWainman17 December 2018

Oral history can be a complicated beast when it comes to issues surrounding consent and ethics. Firstly, oral history is considered both a methodology and a field of study so this inevitably complicates things for researchers. As a field of study that has developed into its current form over the past fifty years, oral history has always concerned itself with giving a voice to the powerless, the marginalised and disenfranchised in society. As the field has developed over the years, so too have questions about the practice of oral history. After all, the very foundations of oral history relies on talking and listening to our subjects in order to record and preserve their memories for future generations. Yet, the academic pursuit of oral history has also raised numerous questions about the types of histories we record and the dynamics at play between researchers and their subjects. Indeed consent and ethics have always been a central concern of oral history. But when it comes to addressing these issues, oral historians need to strongly bear in mind that they are not only abiding by the professional standards of the field but also respecting the wholly collaborative nature of the interview. This guide will aim to provide an overview of the debates concerning consent in oral history and the issues it raises in research data management for researchers at UCL and beyond.

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