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Research ethics

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 1 month ago

The work, then, is not to anticipate every possible ethical conumdrum as much as to commit to addressing them both before the research is begun and as they arise.

(Anderson, G et al, 2007, Studying your own school: An educator's guide to practitioner action research, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.)


There are probably two major ethical considerations, especially when dealing with children, that you need to consider when undertaking your research project. These are confidentiality and duty of care. 



When collecting data your participants should be aware of what you intend to do with it. As Stringer (2003, p.53)) suggests, ask them 'Is there anything here you would not like to reveal to other people in this project?'


When writing up your data ensure anonymity by using either fictitious names or use general terms such as 'one participant noted' or 'Some people said..'


Duty of care:

As teachers we have a responsibility to ensure that any actions we implement or any methods we use to collect data do not disadvantage our students in any way. For example, will participants in your research be placed in a vulnerable position or be deprived of a essential/ desirable learning experience as a result of your study?



In these days of accountability, it is probably preferable to err on the side of caution when talking permissions.  While researchers such as Stringer (2003, p.53) suggest it is not necessary for teachers to gain permission from participants when the research is 'directly related to their ongoing work in the classroom', it certainly won't hurt to get parents' permission (and their child's) for their child to participate. At the same time, ask for permission to use photos, video etc. in any publication or presentation associated with your project.


Getting permission can also be a good PR exercise... shows the parents and students that you are also a learner - someone who is striving to improve their practice.  This is the sort of person they will want teaching their child.  And, since you will have also have run your permission note past the "powers that be" in your school, your desire to be a leader for change will hopefully also be noted.


Here is an example of a note I sent to parents requesting permission for their child to be a participant in an research project. Feel free to use it as a template for your own.


Research Permission Note.doc


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