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Community and Regional Planning

Community & Regional Planning

CRP Faculty Statement on Ethics of Planning Research and Practice

Adopted by the CRP Faculty December 5, 2006 CRP

Program faculty, students and staff are dedicated to creating an environment in which ethical practice and academic integrity are valued and upheld by all. This statement elaborates the ethical principles that underlie the Program’s work. It is intended to serve as a guide to students in the conduct of their study.

The Ethics of Community-based Practice 

The CRP Program’s commitment to ethical practice begins with principles laid out by the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP/APA 1992; AICP 1991). In addition, the community-based mission of the Program necessarily involves students and faculty working in community settings with community members. This engenders a communitarian approach to research and practice, in which planners engage as co-participants in a “mosaic of communitarian values” (Christians, 2000). Though planners bring important expertise, facilitation skills and interpretative capacity to community planning problem solving, community based planning analysis comes from the collective deliberations of community members. Research and practice conducted under a communitarian ethic serve “the community in which research is carried out, rather than the community of knowledge producers and policymakers.” (Lincoln cited in Christians, page 145).

Academic Honesty 

CRP students are responsible for ensuring that the authorship of the ideas and information represented in their work is appropriately acknowledged. Plagiarism occurs when someone –knowingly or unknowingly – presents the words or ideas of another person or group of people as his or her own. This includes information gleaned not only from formally published documents, but also from interviews, newsletters, web sites, and even casual conversations. Of course, any work that students turn in must meet University standards for academic honesty.  In addition, the nature of CRP class work requires particular care in acknowledging the multiple sources of ideas, since and co-researchers.

CRP students should also take care to respect the voice of community participants and “informants” in their work. Research and practice in community and regional planning are often most effective and useful when undertaken in collaboration with community members. When working as “co-researchers” students are urged to reflect on their own power position relative to that of community participants, recognizing that those relationships are social, complex, shifting, historically and culturally situated, and manifested in the power to interpret facts and events. Students are encouraged to reflect on whether the ideas, interpretations or analysis reflected in their class work serve to appropriate community voices (Cordova, 1996), and must also balance community members’ desires for anonymity and/or protection from negative consequences of their speech. This is not always an easy terrain to negotiate, and students should ask faculty members for guidance on acknowledging community analysis and on the appropriate ways to ensure proper citation and informed consent of participants.

Research and Human Subjects

The UNM Institutional Review Board provides guidance on conducting research with human subjects, and provides UNM’s formal oversight on this matter. Though students are not always required to gain clearance from the IRB for their research projects, there are circumstances in which such reporting is required (

All research studies, including masters’ theses or professional projects, intended for publication or wide distribution, conducted under campus entities that involve human subjects must submit protocols to the IRB. Human subjects are defined as “living individuals about whom an investigator obtains data or identifiable private information through intervention or interaction.” The UNM IRB requires that all such work whose purposes and activities meet the definition of research: “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge” go through IRB review. Expedited review by the IRB occurs when research involves no more than minimal risk to participants and can be reviewed by one member of the IRB or the IRB chair. When in doubt, students should contact their faculty members and/or the IRB to determine whether approval is required.

Classroom projects, problems courses, or independent studies that are exclusively for instructional purposes need not undergo IRB review. In these projects, faculty mentors are responsible for oversight of student research ethics in classroom contexts.

Formal research intended for publication may be exempted if it includes the use of existing data, documents, records or other publicly available sources that do not identify participants. Certain survey procedures, observations of public behavior, or educational tests may also qualify for exemption if the data are not sensitive, do not involve children and are recorded anonymously. Such research does, however, require formal exemption by the IRB.

CRP faculty members take responsibility for making students aware of the conditions of 

academic honesty and professional ethics and for providing guidance on how to achieve it. They inform students when their research must be submitted to the UNM Institutional Review Board (IRB). CRP faculty are also available to students for guidance on questions of research and practice ethics.

American Institute of Certified Planners “Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (Adopted October 1978 – As Amended October 1991)”, this is available on line at

American Institute of Certified Planners/ American Planning Association “Ethical Principles in Planning (As Adopted May 1992)”. This is available on line at

Christians, Clifford G. “Ethics and Politics in Qualitative Research”, in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (Eds.). Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000, pp. 133-155.

Córdova, Teresa. 1994. “Refusing to Appropriate: The Emerging Discourse on Race and Planning”. Journal of the American Planning Association, 60(2), pp. 242- 243.

UNM Institutional Review Board Policy:

UNM Policy on Academic Dishonesty, UNM Pathfinder: