Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ethics and Research (Week 24)

Researched and Community Informed Practice (R&C) - Ethics and Research

This week explores the key ethical principles in educational research and several examples of how people or institutions are rethinking the relationship between research and practice in education.

Learning Objectives:
  • Understand the key ethical principles in educational research.
  • Engage with literature on different initiatives and approaches to the relationship between research and practice in education.
  • Recognise some of the opportunities available to you going forward if you are interested in becoming more engaged with research.
'All social research (whether using surveys, documents, interviews, observation, or computer-mediated communication) gives rise to a range of ethical issues around privacy, informed consent, anonymity, secrecy, being truthful and the desirability of the research’ (Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., Tight, M. 2001, How to Research (2nd edn.), Oxford, UK: OUP.)

While as a teacher-researcher (undertaking research in your own classroom or school) one are not required to go through any formal ethics process, it is still critical to think about the ethical implications of your research.

The key principles of research ethics are:
  • Voluntary informed consent. That is participants have the right to opt in and opt out of the research and may not be forced or coerced into participating. Issues of consent are particularly important when working with children and generally require more rigorous consent procedures (often including a parent or guardian giving consent on behalf of the child).
  • Avoid deception. The aims and nature of the research must be clearly and accurately articulated to those involved.
  • The right to withdraw. All participants must have the right to withdraw from a study at any stage. If a participant withdraws, none of the data previously collected on them can be included.
  • Avoid detriment to participants.
  • Respect Privacy. This often includes ensuring anonymity for participants.
  • Consider disclosure.
  • Aim to debrief participants.

Ethics in your own work:

Miles and Huberman (1994) suggest that to mitigate ethical issues it is not only necessary to follow the ethical guidelines of your particular institution but also to consider why the study is worth doing and how it will contribute in some significant way to the broader domain. Tracy (2010) further advocates ensuring the worthiness of the topic of study and considering the significance of the contribution it will make to the research field or to practice.

Therefore, when planning any inquiry projects in your own practice it is helpful to think carefully about the purpose of your inquiry. Think about what your research might be able to contribute and to whom, and also how you will disseminate and share the findings of your research.

~ “While it might be argued that there are few scandals in educational research (or scandals that become public) it is difficult for researchers to deny that ethical, moral and political questions do not surround their day to day experience of education and educational research.” 
- Burgess, R. (Ed.) (1989). The Ethics of Educational Research. Lewes, UK: The Falmer Press. ~

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