For the final project of BCM212, I researched about how students make decisions to study at UOW and their majors, as well as how those decisions influence their perception about future careers. In this short blog post I will explain what I did to engage and represent others in my research in terms of ethics, and what I learned from doing it.
First of all, according to Lassiter 2005, an important element in ethical research is that researchers have to be granted consent by participants and to provide protections of participants’ privacy and confidentiality. In order to gather findings, I conducted both online surveys and interviews. In the first page of my survey, I clearly informed the respondents that by turning to the next page, they allow me to use the data for the purpose of this research and they can choose not to participate if they do not want to grant me the consent. All the answers were collected anonymously so the privacy and confidentiality were guaranteed. About my interviews, when asking the interviewees to participate, I informed them clearly that I would film and publicize the interviews, but only for those reading my research report (more details can be found in my Progress Update here). Therefore, I was granted full consent from the interviewees, and in return I provided protection to their privacy by setting the video setting to private on Youtube, so it can be viewed in my report only.
Secondly, as stated by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, ethical research practices must aim to achieve honesty, fairness and accuracy. As stated above, I filmed and publicized the interviews. Because the interviews were all quite long, I had to edit the footage to highlight the most important points. Therefore, I had to make sure that the editing process only aims to achieve convenience for audience without any intention to stage. Before putting the video into my report, I showed it to all my interviewees so they can see that I made no major changes apart from trimming down pauses, embedding background music or categorizing the answers into a more logical order. About my survey, all the figures published in my report were totally based on the data analysis on the website where I set up the survey without any adjustments. The only thing I did was aggregating them and presenting in the form of charts and graphs. I also tried to achieve fairness by not leaning towards any particular argument or interest, but instead I initially indicated my personal considerations and used my findings to reflect back on them. Any unexpected point that came out of my prior anticipation was also clearly stated.
Finally, I want to share my experience from doing this research. The first thing I learned in terms of research values is Accountability. According to UOW Human Research Ethics Committee, objectives of a research include protecting the welfare and rights of the participants and bringing about benefit. I have explained how I engaged and represented my participants in the above paragraphs to justify how I protected their rights. Moreover, I also tried to make my research outcome beneficial to certain people. By discovering the factors influencing students’ decisions to choose UOW and majors in relation with their future careers, I hope to support my UOW peers to be more confident in what they are doing or make any necessary adjustment. I also expect that my research can support future students to decide whether UOW is the best place for them.
The second research values I have understood is Flexibility. I am aware that planning is crucial in research because it allows me to keep track of my progress. However, there are always times when things come out of control. For example, my video editing took longer than I thought and I was a bit freaked out that I could not finish all the work in time. This challenge pushed me to reallocate my schedule flexibly to compensate for the lack of time. But I still do not know whether I made it right, because I will be submitting everything in an hour and I’m still writing this one. However, I suppose staying in this ambiguity and uncertainty can be tolerated :P, said Dugan 2013.
Another values I obtained is Creativity. Although I’m not a visual expert, I somehow managed to present my survey findings in form of graphs and charts, in an desperate attempt to be creative and make it easier for readers. I also tried to make a highlights video of the interviews to make my report more interactive and less boring (if it is full of words). If it does not work, maybe I’m not creative enough, but I tried.
It feels good writing these last lines as I’m finally able to rest.
It seems like I can’t rest, I still have exams. T.T
Dugan, M 2013, Tolerating Ambiguity, Known Innovation, viewed June 5th 2017, <http://knowinnovation.com/2013/04/tolerating-ambiguity/>.
Lassiter, L 2005, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Media Alliance Code of Ethics, abc.net.au, viewed June 5th 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/0921_meaaethics.pdf>.
UOW Human Research Ethics Committee, viewed June 5th 2017, <http://www.uow.edu.au/research/ethics/UOW009378.html>.