Reflecting back on the last 13 weeks of BCM212, I find myself continuously drifting back to week ones topic about curiosity and how it truly is the stem of great research. It is not often that I find myself genuinely intrigued by university assignments, however my topic about free range produce, specifically the free range egg industry, is something that I am curious about and as a result was eager to conduct my research project each week to find out more. Throughout this project I have learnt a lot about being both an efficient and ethical researcher, two traits that I now know to be fundamental aspects of great research. As we have progressed week by week I have learnt how to look at my research from a professional approach, and within this short reflection would like to outline the key topics that influenced my research project along the way.
The concept of ethical research was discussed in Tilley’s 1998 article, in which she outlines the significance of gaining informed consent and developing a trusted two way relationship between the researcher and any participants. These ideas directly influenced my study, where I ensured that all survey participants gave consent and remained anonymous as promised. The idea of ethics was predominantly mentioned in week 3, where we discussed socially responsible research. A quote from that class that stuck with me through my project was that “the social responsibility of researchers is where the balance between curiosity and reflexivity is held.”
A key lesson that I have learnt whilst conducting this research is the invaluable ability to Develop Critical Judgement. A great tool that was introduced to us was the CRAAP test.
The CRAAP test proved to be a simple yet effective way to determine what secondary sources I could trust. This was a big decision to make, as the secondary sources that I ended up using within my research project proved to be the foundation of my research overall.
The CRAAP test put simply involves looking at:
Currency: The timeliness of the information
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
Authority: The source of the information
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
One of my key findings that appeared in both my primary and secondary research was the fact that the multiple legislations surrounding the free range egg industry meant that consumers did not know what to think or who to believe. Because there are countless variations of the same law when it comes to defining acceptable living conditions for hens that produce free range eggs, I needed to ensure that the sources I did rely on for my report were genuine and trustworthy. Learning to develop critical judgement and putting the CRAAP test to action played major roles in assisting me in this part of my assessment.
As we were to use a lot of sources in this research project, both primary and secondary, it was imperative that we conduct our projects with integrity. In week 7 we looked at the concept of integrity, and how important it is in ethical research practices. The University of Duke Office of Research website that was introduced to us outlined the correct way to construct a consent form. Following De Vaus’ advice I had chosen to conduct a survey due to its many benefits, and the process of integrity and the Duke consent form aided me in ensuring that I gained informed consent from all of my research participants in the correct way. We also reviewed the UOW Academic Integrity Policy, which was something that I had not read before. The policy discussed the importance of honesty, fairness, trust and responsibility, factors that I ensured I had within my assessment along the way.
Lastly we looked at the importance of acknowledging the limitations of your study. Reflecting back on the last 13 weeks of research, I can definitely say there were many limitations. Obviously time was a big constraint, and doing 4 other uni subjects resulted in me having to delegate time for this select project to ensure I stayed on track. If I were to continue to research this project, I would like to be able to conduct focus groups and informal interviews to gain deeper insights and perspectives into my topic. And finally, I would be very interested to get the opinions and help of someone who has already conducted a study on my topic to gain a more mature evaluation of my research so far. I have learnt a lot about ethical research practices from BCM212, and feel that my confidence has dramatically grown in terms of conducting research projects. All that is left to say is bring on the next!