Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) or Self-Determination Applied to Research: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary First Nations Research and Some Options for First Nations Communities

// // Posted in Vol 1 Issue1

Brian Schnarch First Nations Centre National Aboriginal Health Organization


The principles of ownership, control, access and possession (OCAP) crystallize themes long advocated by First Nations in Canada. Coined by the Steering Committee of the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey, the principles are discussed as an expression of selfdetermination in research. The key notions outlined in this paper relate to the collective ownership of group information; First Nations control over research and information; First Nations’ management of access to their data and physical possession of the data. Following a critical review of colonial research practices and recent institutional efforts to improve ethics in Aboriginal research, this paper highlights policies and strategies adopted by First Nations organizations – approaches which offer a way out of the muddle of contemporary Aboriginal research and the ethical dilemmas that characterize it. The benefits of OCAP are described including the rebuilding of trust, improved research quality and relevance, decreased bias, meaningful capacity development, and community empowerment to make change.

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