Ethics for Researchers

Summer is a strange time to be a PhD student. The undergrads are on holiday. The MA students are busily writing dissertations (or already finished and on holiday) and the PhD students are…pretending it’s not summer.

In other words, you get extremely uninteresting posts regarding the work I’m currently engaged in.

Today is ethics. The UK and Canada have very different ethics policies at University. By which I mean, the UK’s is almost painfully complicated and Canada’s is, well, almost non-existent. Since I’m in the UK, I’ve spent the last month dealing with the headache that is ethics approval for my work.

I’m dealing with children, and therefore gatekeepers (parents, in this case) for my research. This means I have to prove to the ethics officer (and maybe even the ethics board), that I’m not going to be doing research that will endanger or damage the children in any way. I’m not, point blank. I’m asking them questions with their parents’ present, in a public space, about their technology use and interests. It should be really very simple. But it’s not.

I am not beginning my pilot study until at least October, but I have to get ethics approval now in order to continue to the next step, which is setting up that pilot study. This means that things like sample consent forms need to be created, and my entire research methodology planned out. You may have gathered by now that those things are not so easy. I still have another month and a half before I finish my first year! I’ve been slogging away on getting the form filled in, and making sure I included everything. I sent it off yesterday to the ethics officer, and can now to nothing except cross my fingers and hope.

If I get a pass, great! If I don’t, I know it will require a much deeper report listing the specifics of my project, including sample questionnaires for questions I haven’t even thought of yet! Not looking forward to that, if so, as my brain is really focused on other things right now.

That’s right, it’s August. Which means holiday in five days and Student Rep responsibilities again. Just did the first of many emails this morning for the ‘new’ academic year. The first of many, many, many, many, maaaaannnnnnny emails.

A PhD student’s work is never finished (even when the thesis is!)

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About Amy

Amy has now graduated from the University of Leicester. Hello! I've just begun my third year of a full-time PhD here at Leicester in the Museum Studies department, though I'm originally from Canada. I graduated a few years ago from Leicester with my MA and couldn't wait to return for a doctorate. I am heavily involved in Social Media and manage the SM profile for the Museum Studies PhD Community. Of course, I enjoy weekend trips to museums, when I'm not doing work! I will be blogging about all the wonderful aspects of being a postgraduate student here at Leicester, fond memories of being a Masters student, and hopefully other things of some interest. I promise there won't be too much about museums!

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