ED 633 Week Seven (Spring 2022)

 

Hi everyone,

Before I begin, I would like to mention that even though I am working through this class as if we will have a research proposal finalized by the time we are finished, please don’t feel as though that is necessary. This class is designed to develop a basic understanding of research with a sight toward developing a research proposal. Thus, hopefully you will understand enough about the different types of research, as well as understand the research proposal, to actually being able to begin developing one should you be far enough along.

Now, to begin . . . .

There is a fine line between what we would like to do as far as research goes, and the time we have available to do our research. I suppose that should be the punchline for this week’s thinking.

 

 

What I mean by that is if time were not an issue, you would likely choose the topic you are most passionate about, and you would be able to devote sufficient time to do a fabulous job. But I am well aware that as a graduate student with a life outside of school (juggling work commitments, family responsibilities and everything else that shows up unexpectedly in life), and the fact that you will probably be trying to finish up your project or research in one or two terms, it is necessary to keep an eye on what is possible and what is practical.

I have, on more than one occasion, had well intentioned students unable to finish up their research project on time because they didn’t take into account that we often have less time to devote to our research than we would like. Family issues pop up, unannounced meetings, parent-teacher interviews, other university responsibilities. Sometimes we simply have to settle for less. I know you have heard that from me before, but it helps to be reminded.

Keeping the “less-is-more” in mind, I have decided that we might be wise to jump ahead to the topic of ethics and the role of the university Institutional Review Board. Even though I had initially scheduled this topic for week nine, I am thinking that it might help you to understand what is involved in researching human subject (that means students). It is probably much more involved that what you think. And, many students are delayed because their work gets caught up in IRB procedures. Learning this now, might have you re-think what you would like to research.

Of course anytime we research it is imperative that we act ethically. But when it comes to research affiliated within an academic institution, as you will be doing, the importance placed on ethics (and perhaps I should say, the importance of protecting the university from law suits) takes a front seat. We do have to cover ethics, and it is expected for this class to complete some ethics training. I am simply moving this section forward. You will notice that we are jumping ahead, as far as our textbook is concerned, though many research textbooks place the Ethics Chapter right up front within the first few chapters.

The reason I like delaying the section on ethics is that I did want you to have a pretty good understanding of the differences between qualitative and quantitative research before we considered the importance of ethics and the IRB. Again, knowing what is required for IRB approval, especially when you have a limited time to do research, might just dissuade you from doing certain types of research. You will see what I mean by the end of this week. It is best to know if you want to work with human subjects before beginning your research proposal. This is not to say that you can’t, or shouldn’t, be working with human subjects. The reality, though, is that there are quite a few extra steps you have to take whenever you deal with people (or animals).

The university keeps very close tabs on any research that is being done in the university or in the name of the university. Protocols are set up, and a number of individuals on the IRB board have to review and approve any research that involves human subjects.

This approval has to take place prior to any research being performed. I should mention that on more than one occasion a student has come to me with some of their research completed (interviews already done) only to find out that no research affiliated with the university can not be started without IRB approval. So we start again.

Given that you are might already be thinking about pursuing a particular type of research — and quite likely with human subjects, it would be in your best interest to start learning about the IRB now. So that is what we will do. You might just change your mind about including human subjects, and it is nice to have made that decision prior to developing a research proposal. Furthermore, working through the IRB website and completing the CITI program training (as we are all expected to do) might take you all of (or even a bit more than) a week so I didn’t want to expose you to this after you started you research proposal (if you are at the research proposal phase of your research journey).

So, let me point you in the right direction of the ethics section in our text book, include a chapter from another textbook that talks about research ethics, and share with you the IRB web site.

Let us begin đŸ™‚

Kumar discusses ethics in Chapter 14: Considering ethical issues in data collection. We are introduced to the concept and informed that most professions have some sort of code of conduct. Kumar then explains to us who stakeholders in research are and explains that each stakeholder deserves to be treated ethically. Of course or stakeholders might be students, teachers, parents, administrators, funding organizations, etc — our research participants, research collaborators, or funding organizations. You will see that we don’t want any entity to contaminate our research, or that our research contaminate (harm) our participants. Kumar does a nice job walking us through many of the issues to consider, and a number of the protocols that researchers within institutions follow.

Furthermore, you might find it helpful to have a look at the Exercise VI: Data collection (Ethical Issues in Data Collection) worksheet even if you are not ready to actually fill it out with your particular research in mind. I think you will find it very helpful and easy to use.

The chapter is short — but helpful.

Now, I would like to include a chapter from another textbook that is available to you from our library. While the basics are the same, you might find that this chapter does offer some additional information that will add to your depth of understanding.

 

 

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The Institutional Review Board

Finally, we have to become familiar with the WOU’s Institutional Review Board website. Before doing any human subject research, we will have to know how to apply for permission to do the research we intend on doing. And, we will have to have completed the CITI training program and submit our completion certificate when we request permission to do research.

As you might imagine, the university’s IRB page is located at wou.edu/irb.

 

 

Take your time and become familiar with the Institutional Review Board.

You will want to read through the General Information to help you determine whether or not your research will require an IRB review, the level of review, the timeline, and finally the CITI training. Finally, you should likely become familiar with the review process.

The final exercise for us this week is to complete the CITI training program. This is easy to find on the site and listed under the CITI Training paragraph on the General Information page.

You will have to register (do not ‘login’ or ‘Login through my organization’) if you have never completed the training. After you click on the register link, select your organization affiliation “Western Oregon University”, then agree to the terms and services, affirm that you are an affiliate of the university, and continue to register. After you are registered, choose Institutional Courses. Do not follow as and independent learner. you can view the courses from Western Oregon University.

Notice, from the IRB website:

  • WOU students, faculty, and staff listed on a human subjects protocol must take the Group 1: All WOU Researchers  training course listed under the CITI course options.

 

After you have filled out the information, then it is simply working through the modules. You do not need to complete the entire training in one sitting.

Please do your best to work through the CITI training this week.

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Questions Continued

Let us continue our interview questions. If you recall, in week four, our question was:

 

Question 11: As you developed your research (let’s pretend that you have done more research than you have actually done at this point) would you tell us about some of the different broad-based ideas that you had as you formulated the theoretical research in your area? (Notice in the previous video how the researchers had a number of interesting questions around the idea of artificial light (the broad-based ideas) but honed in on a very specific question. I am hoping you will, by this point, have a number of broad-based questions that are (or will be) contributing to your theoretical framework from which you will derive a more specific question or problem to explore).

 

Today’s Question:

Question 12: As you think about the sort of research you might pursue, will you be using human subjects? And if so, are there any ethical considerations that you would take into account?

Question 13: Have you completed the CITI training program?

 

That’s it for our questions. I know the training program takes time so I didn’t want to burden you with to many questions.

 

Once you have completed these last two questions, please do send me your second set.

 

That’s it for this week. I suppose after having to go through all the IRB materials I should have asked whether you have now decided you would like to do philosophical research rather than human subject research. I do say that jokingly, but not entirely jokingly. Next week I would like to introduce you to some other forms of research, such as one of my my favorites (phenomenological research).

Until next day, have a great week!