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Letter from a parent about research ethics
http://www.woodhillpark.com/articles/33/1/Letter-from-a-parent-about-research-ethics/Page1.html
Jo Perry and Dr Jens J. Hansen
 
By Jo Perry and Dr Jens J. Hansen
Published on 09/11/2010
 
This letter is from a hypothetical parent to a teacher/researcher.  It poses a series of questions which a researcher really ought to consider at the beginning of planning a research project, be that project big or small in scope.

We've copied the letter below so that you can read what we've got to say about ethics and so that you can think carefully about some of the questions we've posed.  Because we think it's important, we've also included a PDF version of the letter that you can download and freely use.  There's no copyright on this item so feel free to use the letter as an aid to focusing on ethical dimensions of your work and feel free to share it with others.  All we ask is that you show the usual academic courtesies by acknowledging your source. 

Now read on and then click the prompt at the end of this item to download a PDF copy of this letter.

Dear Teacher…

I am a parent.  My child may come to the Early Childhood Centre where you are working and where you may be considering doing some small research project.  There are some things I wanted you to think about if this is the case.  I think ‘seeing it’ all from my point of view might help you think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.  So, here are some questions…I’ve left places that you might use to answer me…I wonder what you will say?

 

Who are you?  Do I know you?  Do we have a relationship and can I trust you?  What do you value about me and my child?

 

What is it that you want to know about the Centre and what my child does when he is there?

 

Why is it important for you to know this?  Will it be important for me too?  How might it affect my child?

 

How will you find out what you want to know? As you find out, will my child be affected?  As you are concentrating on this will other parts of my child’s learning be affected?

 

What are you going to do with what you find out?

 

Who will see and hear about what you find out?

 

Will you be taking photographs of my child?  Will I be able to see them before you show anyone else?  What if I don’t like them?  What if the things you find out are embarrassing to me will you still write them?

 

I would like to know all about this project so that I can decide what to do for my family.  How can I be sure you’ve told me everything?

 

English is not my first language and I may not really understand what you are saying or what you have given me to read.  How will you ensure that I do?

 

What if I don’t really want to do this but feel I must because you are my child’s teacher and I am frightened of you?  What if I say ‘yes’ to start with and then change my mind.  Will that affect how you treat me and my child?

 

 

As a parent, I’ve never been asked to be involved in research before and I’m really worried and a little nervous of what it’s all about.  I’m relying on you as a teacher and a ‘professional’ to guide and protect me and my family in this so I want to know what will happen.

Yours faithfully,

 

A.Parent (Mrs)

If you want to download a PDF copy of this letter, click here or click on the heading to this article.