Week three: How ethical my research is?

Welcome back to my bi-weekly diary!

Last week, we had an presentation on Responsible Conduct in Research, which presenter Shannon Wapole presented the ethical issues and questions throughout research, such as data ownership, conflict of research, information privacy and security, and collaborative research. It was surprise but understandable fact that if you conduct research through university, then the data is owned by university, almost always. Moreover, I was shocked by how much I was unconscious about possible ethical issues when I conduct my research. These ethical issues is noticeable phenomenon, but I was not able to realize the hidden issue, because I did not pay attention to those.

In my field, physics education research, there are a lot of ethical issues and questions. We gather the data for students survey and demographic data, so data ownership and data collection can be issue. For example, if I collect the data, and some one can use that data without notifying me, which will cause problem when we publish the data. In addition, we have to do CITI practice in order to earn IRB approval to perform surveys on students. Without IRB approval, if we perform survey and intended to publish the data, the data cannot be published.

Not only the IRB and data, but also the interest in research and collaboration can be ethical conflict. Suppose I would like to conduct research on how active learning in physics classroom will change their students’ performance, and if another researcher would like to conduct research on different field, they will not be able to collaborate with me. Also, when we collaborate with other researcher, we first need to decide if the person has manageable time, similar interests and enough commitment. Then, we need to discuss how we will publish it, and who will be in the author, acknowledgement section. Otherwise, we will have some conflict in terms of publishing data properly.

Since I finally realized these ethical issues, I can began thinking about solving these problems. In order to have organized ownership in collecting the data, we need to talk with each other who has what data, and decide their data ownership especially when we publish it. For the IRB approval, if the students is still Freshman or Sophomore, their mentor should know it. In fact, my mentor knew IRB practice, which I did not have any knowledge about it, and helped me to earn IRB approval. Therefore, the important action to perform responsible conduct in research is to discuss with other people, and prepare earlier. As long as the students and researcher prepare ahead in order to avoid confusion and frustration before the deadline, the will be able to have clean and proper research.

It is difficult realize if your research is ethical or not. However, it is easy to ask somebody for help, learn by yourself, and go to the ethical workshop. In order to maintain my knowledge about Responsible Conduct in Research, I am planning to attend some of the workshop in NIU. In the near future, I hope and I will having a proper research, without ethical conflict and issues.

Thank you for reading!

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