Research Ethics

Research is intended to gain knowledge. How we gain that knowledge is as important as what that knowledge consists of. My aim is to apply recognised standards of ethical practice to the design, collection, analysis and distribution of investegative work undertaken in relation to media practice, social media processes and community media volunteering.

As well as observing community media volunteers in action, as they produce media content, my research will also ask questions about the different types of identities and roles that are fostered by volunteers in different community media groups and organisations.

Participation in these studies is entirely voluntary, and may involve being observed either in an online social media community, or within a physical social media space.

In the future these studies may ask participants to respond to a weblog, a questionnaire or one-to-one interviews. At each stage it will be made clear that the responces and the engagement with the process of collecting information will be for research purposes.

Therefore, all participants contributions will be treated as confidential and will be recorded anonymously where possible, and with the express consent of the research participant.

In the past I have used the De Montfort University and Faculty of Technology codes of research practice. which has been developed aloing with the following research codes of practice:

BSC Code of Conduct
Social Research Association (SRA) Ethical Guidelines
Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Research Ethics Framework
Association of Internet Researchers

At different times I may ask for clarification of points later after each period of observation, discussion or questions, but participants are not obliged in any way to clarify or participate further, and I will not seek any further contact with you about this unless you agree.

If you request, the information you provide can be considered confidential, except that with your permission anonymised quotes may be used.  If you request confidentiality, beyond anonymised quotes, information you provide will be treated only as a source of background research, alongside book and web-based material.

If you request, your name or any other personal identifying information will not appear in the final report or any publications resulting from any studies that I produce; neither will there be anything to identify your place of work or business.

Notes collected during any study will be retained for the duration of any research in a secure location and then destroyed, if requested.  The information gained will only be used for the objectives stated and will not be used for any other purpose nor will be recorded in excess of what is required.

If there are any known or anticipated risks to participants in this study (unless you mention issues of illegality), then this will be discussed with each respondant individually.

If you have any questions regarding this study or would like additional information please contact me at any time. Participation in the weblog confirms acceptance of the study ethics and policy.

I will seek to update this statement on a regular basis, applying a regular review to the processes of data collection that I use and the organisations that these standards are associated with.

Rob Watson

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