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1 Ethical Issues in Research into Applied Linguistics and Language Education Dr Malcolm MacDonald.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Ethical Issues in Research into Applied Linguistics and Language Education Dr Malcolm MacDonald."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Ethical Issues in Research into Applied Linguistics and Language Education Dr Malcolm MacDonald

2 Research and research ethics Research is defined as any form of disciplined inquiry that aims to contribute to a body of knowledge or theory ‘Research ethics’ refers to the moral principles guiding research from its inception through to its completion and publication of results and beyond

3 Case study 1: learning strategies The aim of your research is to investigate what learning strategies English language learners in your home country use when they are studying the English language. You are going to administer and analyse a questionnaire to 4 groups of 25 learners in a high school in your home country.

4 Case study 2: intercultural communication The aim of your research is to investigate the ways in which cultural identity is constituted within the genre of s written between people of different nationalities using English as a lingua franca. They have different L1s but are using the English language to communicate, –e.g. a Spanish person using English to communicate with someone from China. You are collecting a corpus of correspondence between university students from different ‘cultures’, i.e. they are of different nationalities. You intend to collect a corpus of 400 different s written by 20 different respondents over one month.

5 Task focus Write down 3 issues do you need to consider in order to ensure that this research project is carried out ethically.

6 6 Reducing risks to participants (Cohen et al, 2000:51) Protecting the rights of the participants: maintaining privacy, guaranteeing anonymity, guaranteeing confidentiality, avoiding harm, betrayal, deception.

7 Good practice in Research Confidentiality of information Voluntary participation Reducing risks to participants Informed consent Protection of data

8 8 Confidentiality of information (ESRC, 2005) The confidentiality of information supplied by research subjects must be respected The anonymity of respondents must be respected Refer to participants by number, e.g. T1, T2 etc. Refer to participants and institutions by pseudonym, –e.g. “Mr. Shakespeare” –e.g. “University of Stratford”

9 Voluntary participation Research participants must participate in a voluntary way, free from any coercion. They should be informed of their right to refuse to participate or withdraw from an investigation. In cases where research involves vulnerable groups such as children or adults with learning difficulties, the issue of informed consent may need to be managed through proxies who should be either those with a duty of care or who can provide disinterested independent approval. In the case of children, researchers cannot expect parents alone to provide disinterested approval on their children’s behalf.

10 Informed consent Participants must be in a position or old enough to understand the choice that they are making Disclosure of purposes of research A provision allowing participants to withdraw at any time Disclosure of any risks to participants Signed consent form (optional)

11 Protection of data Data must not be released to third parties Data must be kept in a secure environment Data may be destroyed after the research project is completed Data Protection Act

12 niversity ethics policies Codifying ethical principles for research: university ethics policies Like other UK universities Warwick has a well developed research ethics policy. The documents are extensive and can be found at the following web page: The University is committed to promoting guidelines on ethical practice and supporting researchers with emerging issues in relation to ethics across all research fields. The University expects that staff and students will behave ethically and professionally in all their activities. It is the responsibility of staff and students to consider the ethical implications of their research using the Ethical Scrutiny Framework and all relevant guidelines of appropriate professional bodies to assist them in fulfilling their obligations. University ethics committees police such codes to ensure that research carried out under their auspices does not breach them.

13 Codifying ethical principles for research: associations Definitions of professional ethical practice are often enshrined in codes to guide the decisions of researchers. Codes have been developed by the British Association for Applied Linguistics (1994) and the British Educational Research Association (2004) Guidelines of the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Guidelines of the British Educational Research Association (BERA)

14 MA research: procedure Read a few sections from research handbooks on ethics Fill in ethics form (in handout) and send to the MA secretary no later than the endof the third week of the summer term, or before data collection begins whichever is sooner Ethics Officer approves your ethics form: Malcolm Carry out data collection and interpretation ethically When writing up, include section in the Methods section of dissertation ( wrds), entitled “Ethics”, to describe the precautions which you took in your research Include Ethics form in Appendix of dissertation (cited in methods section)

15 The End Destroy confidential data after project is complete Keep confidential data secure

16 Some recent books on research methods in applied linguistics Burns, Anne Doing action research in English language teaching : a guide for practitioners. New York: Routledge. Dornyei Zoltan Research methods in applied linguistics : quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Holliday, Adrian Doing and writing qualitative research. London: SAGE. Paltridge, Brian and Aek Phakiti (eds.) Continuum companion to research methods in applied linguistics. London: New York, NY : Continuum. Richards, Keith Qualitative inquiry in TESOL. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


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