Association of Polar Early Career Scientists

Below we have provided a list of materials that will give you ideas, methods and things to consider when incorporating Traditional Knowledge in your research.


Tools for Researchers






European Commission Directorate General for External Relations, Arctic Transform and Arktinen Keskus Arctic Centre Background Paper Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic

The aim of this paper is to present the situation of the Arctic indigenous peoples in relation to the changing marine environment. However, the role of the marine environment can only be understood in a wider context of the overall situation of Arctic Indigenous peoples due to the complexity of their respective indigenous ways of life. Therefore, it's necessary to describe not only the direct impacts of climate change on the Arctic marine environment but also on the terrestrial areas of indigenous peoples. To complete the picture, a focus is also placed on economical, legal and political aspects.


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Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS)

Guidelines for Improved Cooperation between Arctic Researchers and Northern Communities

Drafted by the Arctic Sciences Section of the Offi ce of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium with the input of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management and the Alaska Native Science Commission. The purpose is to provide information and suggestions to improve the way researchers work with communities in the Arctic in the planning and conduct of fifi eld research campaigns.


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Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat, Copenhagen

Traditional Knowledge: A Report prepared for the Arctic Council Indigenous People’s Secretariat

The purpose of this report is to examine the ‘concept’ of traditional knowledge, the terms associated with it, what programs and research projects are currently underway in the Arctic region that are related to traditional knowledge, to survey how traditional knowledge is currently being used in management regimes, with particular reference to the management of renewable resources and to compile a bibliography of written materials that are related to traditional knowledge.


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University of the Arctic

Module 4 Traditional Knowledge

This particular module will help you explore and understand traditional knowledge. Traditional knowledge will be understood within the context of the Indigenous societies in which it occurs: it will be seen to develop and change in accordance to a people’s relationship with the land and with other peoples.


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National Aboriginal Health Organziation – Inuit Tuttarvingat (now closed) Research and Research Ethics Fact Sheet Series (available for download until 2017)

This series serves as a reference for research participants on a variety of topics. Fact sheet #1, for example, is about research and researchers in general, fact sheet # 3 is on consent and #8 is about permits and licences in Inuit regions.


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Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) Ethical Principles for the Conduct of Research in the North 

For over twenty years ACUNS’ statement of ethical principles for the conduct of research in the north has been one of the most widely disseminated and reproduced guide for research used in the Canadian North. Recently updated to reflect the changing social and political context, the document has achieved recognition from many international and circumpolar countries through its perspective that acknowledges scholarship and research take place among people with a stake in the work that is being undertaken. ACUNS’ ethics guide is currently available in English, French, Inuktitut, and Russian translations.


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International Development Research Centre Working with Indigenous Knowledge: A Guide for Researchers

Methods of incorporating IK systems in development work are discussed. Section 1 serves as general introduction to the topic. Section 2 addresses some of the ethical issues in IK research. Intellectual property rights and the emerging ethical, legal, and commercial contexts affecting IK research are discussed. Section 3 looks at research paradigms, briefly mapping out insights generated from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources framework for assessing progress toward sustainability, the social sciences, and gender-sensitive and participatory rural research. Section 4 expands on the topic of IK methodology by offering details on 31 field techniques. Section 5 presents four case studies, demonstrating different approaches to IK research in terms of research objectives and collection techniques. Section 6 deals with assessing the product of IK research in terms of sustainability and looks at developing IK through validation and experimentation. Three sets of formal procedural guidelines for conducting IK research are presented in Appendix 1.


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First Nations Information Governance Centre (Canada) First Nations Principles of OCAP 

The First Nations Principles of OCAP™ (ownership, control, access, and possession) means that First Nations control data collection processes in their communities. First Nations own, protect and control how their information is used. Access to First Nations data is important and First Nations determine, under appropriate mandates and protocols, how access to external researchers are facilitated and respected. 


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Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Research Centre

Negotiating Research Relationships with Inuit Communities: A Guide for Researchers

A guide to community expectations, ethical research conduct and relationship-building for researchers working in Inuit communities. Focus on communication and consultation, with appendices that includes contact information for organizations that provide research licenses and guidance to researchers.


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Inuvik, Northwest Territories

Traditional Knowledge Guide for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NWT: Part 1 (Literature Review and Evaluation)


Literature review of IK guidelines, legislation and policy. Annotated bibliography of sources in the appendix. 

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Government of Canada, Tonina Simeone (Political and Social Affairs Division, Parliamentary Research Branch, Library of Parliament)

Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights

Provides justification for protecting traditional knowledge and information on how to protect IK, outlines the limitations of intellectual property rights for protecting IK and summarizes international efforts to protect IK.


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Canadian Institutes for Health Research 

Tri-Council Policy Statement

Chapter 9 specifically outlines the important ethical issues of research involving Aboriginal people in Canada. In depth discussion of the theoretical justifications for community consulting, step-by-step guide to issues of importance when conducting research with Aboriginal people, advocates for the identification of local knowledge holders 


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Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

COSEWIC Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Process and Protocols Guidelines


Procedure for gathering IK about local species when a procedure is not in place in the community/organization. Includes 8 step guidelines with an emphasis on receiver of IK to show respect and act ethically. 

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Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Guidelines for Respecting Cultural Knowledge

Guidelines for incorporating IK into educational curriculum. Designed to minimize potential for misuse and misunderstanding. Elders (defined by cultural position rather than age) are considered the primary source IK. Contains guidelines tailored to specific groups (elders, authors, illustrators, educators, publishers, researchers, reviewers, etc.)


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World Bank

Indigenous Knowledge for Development Results

By  Nicolas Gorjestani


Description of the benefits of using indigenous knowledge for development work. Several cases are presented as examples of the effective use of IK to solve development problems. 

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Best Practices of Indigenous Knowledge 

The report provides background information on IK in general and on the collection process, 22 best practices case examples arranges by continent and by country with comments by editors. Includes indexes to enable readers to search the cases.


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National Aboriginal Health Organization, Dawn Martin Hill

Traditional Medicine in Contemporary Contexts: 

Protecting and Respecting Indigenous Knowledge  

and Medicine  

Hill provides clear definitions of indigenous medicinal practices and problematizes colonial terms like “traditional” and definitions that portray IK as “shamanic” or somehow irrational. Includes discussion of the commodification/sale of ceremony/traditions, intellectual property rights and other concerns about the use of IK. Section II outlines recommendations that are of use for researchers.


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National Aboriginal Health Organization, Chelsea Crowshoe

Sacred Ways of Life: Traditional Knowledge

Guide to protecting and maintaining IK – includes the legal understanding of traditional knowledge, comparison of Aboriginal and Western ways of knowing, tools for respectfully working with IK and for communities to protect IK (develop an Aboriginal research committee, outline and declare policies, local curriculum/apprenticeship program, professional regulation for traditional healers, language retention programs)


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World Health Organization 

WHO Traditional Medicine Policy 2002-2005

Definition of traditional medicine, discussion of regulation issues, rational/cost effectiveness. Includes examples of efficacy of IK. Good information on IK, does not include tools for researchers to employ IK. 


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World Intellectual Property Organization






WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC)

(several draft articles)


Draft articles covering cultural expression, traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Articles define each part of indigenous knowledge, set out guidelines for their protection and beneficiaries’ rights. Useful overview of the legal protection of IK. 

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Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami 

Inuit Qaujisarvingat Knowledge Centre:

Advancing Inuit Knowledge 

for Sustainable Arctic Science and Policy


Info sheet includes details of the Knowledge Centre’s goals and information for researchers seeking to work with the Knowledge Centre. The Research Platform Model provides a simple tool for researchers to follow when working with IK/Inuit Qaujisarvingat. (In four languages)

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Aurora College

Doing Research in the Northwest Territories:

A Guide for Researchers 

Applying for a Scientific Research Licence


Guide to research licensing in the Northwest Territories – includes a section on support for researchers from Northern organizations. 

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Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

“Checklist: Inuit Involvement in Research Projects”. ITK Environment Bulletin, 3, pp. 25-26.

Brief checklist including criteria for involving Inuit people in research: Community-based participatory research, IK, ethics, intellectual property rights, capacity building, knowledge transfer, and collection of biological samples.


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International Development Research Centre

Louise Grenier

Working With Indigenous Knowledge: A Guide for Researchers

Comprehensive guide for researchers on the use of IK: definition of IK, current erosion of IK systems, usefulness for research, intellectual property rights, guide to research development. 


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National Aboriginal Health Organization

Interviewing Elders Guidelines

Guide to requesting and collecting information from elders. Includes protocols, seeking permissions and guidelines for respectfulness. 


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Canadian International Development Agency

Integrating Indigenous Knowledge

in Project Planning and Implementation


Detailed guidelines for researchers using IK – includes guidelines for interacting with Aboriginal people, using IK to improve research, etc. Includes a checklist of concerns and a list of IK research case studies.

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Michael Anthony Hart

Journal of Indigenous Voices 

Indigenous Worldviews, Knowledge, and Research: 

The Development of an Indigenous Research Paradigm


Detailed explanation of Indigenous worldviews (epistemology, ontology, axiology, methodology) and their importance to developing a research program. 

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Council of Yukon First Nations

Traditional Knowledge Research Guidelines: A Guide for Researchers in the Yukon

Definition of IK and the principles that guide it. Includes explicit guidelines for how to access, collect, store and use IK. Appendixes include informed consent forms, checklist of questions that researchers must consider, and a sample community agreement.


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Mackenzie Valley Review Board

Guidelines for Incorporating Traditional Knowledge in Environmental Impact Assessment July 2005

Advice for researchers and developers with a specific focus on environmental assessment. Document is a specific guide for those dealing with the MVRB, however contains detailed protocol for many issues around using IK.  Useful appendices include relevant legislation, available literature and process model. 


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Deh Cho First Nation

Samuel Gargan

Deh Cho First Nation Research Protocol


Example of research protocol from Deh Cho First Nation, NWT. Includes steps for researchers and a sample research agreement.


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International Association of the Mataatua Declaration. United Nations

Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific 


Detailed explanation of intellectual and cultural property rights, traditional medicine, human gene patenting and the protocol necessary for each.

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