As I start on my PhD research, of course ethics is on my mind. My research is interdisciplinary in nature, as I focus on both children’s fantasy fiction and how children respond to class markers within it, so I am thinking about my response to fiction and others’ research and being authentic in how I respond to it. But also there is my ethical responsibility to the children I will be working with.
Of course there is the obvious: I must abide by all school policies in how I deal with the children. I must protect their privacy and ensure that I anonymise their comments. I must consider the trust that the school has placed in me, so that I report only on what is pertinent to the scope of my research. I must protect my data appropriately. The children- or their parents- have the right to withdraw.
But when researching in an education setting, don’t we have a wider ethical responsibility? I believe that when designing research, we should aim to have a positive impact on the child’s (or student’s) learning experience. We should consider emotional wellbeing, even if that is simply demonstrating that we value their time and opinions. We cannot pretend that engaging learners in our research is impact-neutral, and seeing them merely as “subjects” to be interesting case studies is, in my opinion, unethical.