I'd also encourage everyone who is practicing "applied" SNA to research the
ethics of the profession they are analyzing.  Many of the same questions
that might pertain to SNA ethics in this application are contained in the
body of literature on military ethics/morality.  Many of the most vocal
critics of the military might be surprised at the level of serious thought
(and education) that most military officers and enlisted have about morality
and ethics in war.  The modern soldier, contrary to popular fiction (such as
the retired Marine Colonel in the movie "American Beauty") are fairly open
minded and well educated.  I would therefore suggest that the literature of
ethics for applied SNA should include research into the ethics of the
profession under study.

Truth in advertising: I am a Commander in the US Naval Reserves with 16
years of active duty and 45 days of combat operations.


Jeffrey R. Cares
President, Alidade Consulting
31 Willow Street
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
Vox: (401) 935-9961
Fax: (425) 871-5466

Primary E-mail:  [log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Social Network Researchers [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf
Of Marya Doerfel
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2002 1:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: networks and ethics
Sensitivity: Confidential

When I was a student, I remember reading and discussing the ethics of social
research as being akin to what nuclear scientists do. On one hand, a result
of such research provides solutions to saving people's lives in the form of
nuclear medicine.  On the other hand, a result of such research is the bomb
and other terrifying weapons of mass destruction.

In the case of SNA, like much research that is out there, we face similar
ethical dilemmas.  Do we want to forego rich understanding of social
relationships because such knowledge gets into the wrong hands?  Do we want
to be part of research--like that of the Army's--so that we can have a
chance to intellectually and ethically influence such endeavors?

Indeed, knowledge is powerful, and particularly so with information that we
amass from conducting SNA.  So, where are the ethical considerations in our
academic papers?  Are there ethical publications like position pieces about
our academic responsibility as SNA researchers, in particular?

In sum, I guess my contribution is this-- Do members of the SNA community
include ethical discussions in their workshops, classrooms, and
publications?  And if so, I'd love to see those references posted to this

Marya Doerfel