Friday, February 10, 2017

Week 3: Ethics

In the field of composition, research has many standards that to me seem the same as they are in every other discipline. We need to gain informed consent from research participants, we have to properly recruit, and we have to take special care if we are using students from our own classes as research participants. That all just seems to make sense if you are even remotely aware of ethics or have ever taken an ethics course. In our department, you are required to take research methods and field methods. Both of these courses discuss MANY aspects of conducting research, almost to the point where it makes you worried about conducting research in the first place because you're worried you're going to unintentionally damage someone's emotions in some way. In our field, human subjects aren't tested on, like we don't inject them with serums or something; rather, we observe the way they interact in a classroom environment or how they write or how they respond to a peer review--things of that nature. Of course, there are many other forms of research besides that in the larger field of rhetoric and composition, but those are just some examples. I'm familiar with VT'S IRB and have had positive experiences with them so far. In fact, I have an IRB-approved study that just came up for review because it's expiring, so I have to decide whether or not to renew it because I'm still in the data analysis stage of the project. We'll see if I have time to transcribe my interviews and analyze that data sometime within the next year.

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