Introduction and Preamble

IVSA Code of Research Ethics and Guidelines | Published: December 2009


The International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA) Code of Research Ethics and Guidelines sets forth the principles and ethical standards that underlie professional responsibilities doing visual research from a diversity of cultures, disciplinary orientations and methodological approaches, including but not limited to multi-national professions: sociology, anthropology, communications, art, history. These principles and standards should be used as guidelines for research activities in the conduct of professional work. As a guideline this document is intended to aid IVSA members to be aware of ethical issues in the research process, to encourage individual responsibility for ethical practice, and to provide a supportive document for visual researchers pursuing formal approvals from ethics review boards, academic institutions, and prospective sponsors. The document may be included with proposals to raise awareness of the field and to aid interpreters of ethics standards with additional information that supports visual research.

IVSA’s Code of Research Ethics consists of an Introduction, a Preamble, five General Principles, and specific Ethical Standards. Most of the statements are written broadly in order to apply to visual researchers in varied disciplines, using varied visual research methods. The application of this Code may vary depending on the context. Standards are not exhaustive and any conduct that is not specifically addressed by this Code is not necessarily ethical or unethical.


The Code is intended to provide general principles to cover professional visual research conducted by IVSA members and other interested parties. It has as its primary goal the welfare and protection of the individuals and groups with whom visual researchers work, while supporting the freedoms and integrity of research that uses visual media and images. It is the individual responsibility of each professional to aspire to the highest possible standards of conduct in visual research and practice. Each professional supplements the values specified in the Code based on guidance drawn from personal values, culture, and experience, as well as consultation with others.