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Code for Research

The San people are some of the most studied in the world, but because the San have felt mistreated by researchers in the past, they've drawn up a code of conduct for anyone wishing to study their genes, knowledge, or culture, writes University of Central Lancashire's Kate Chatfield at the Conversation. Three South African San groups, the Khomani, the !Xun, and the Khwe, drew up this code as part of the European Union-funded TRUST project and with the help of the South African San Institute, she adds.

In their new code of conduct, the San call on researchers to adhere to their values of respect, honesty, justice and fairness, and care. They note that, in the past, genomics researchers didn't treat their leaders with respect and conducted research without consulting their leaders. They add that San knowledge has benefitted companies in South Africa and around the world without any benefits coming back to them.

Going forward, the San require researchers to conduct a "clear and open exchange" with their leaders, respect their culture, and engage San in the proposed research. That engagement could include, for instance, co-research opportunities. In addition, they say that research "should be aligned to local needs and improve the lives of San."

Chatfield adds that she believes that this is the first code of conduct for research written by a vulnerable indigenous group.