Researching Ethically in School
Australian Teacher Education Association
Education and Arts
Kurongkurl Katitjin, Education and Communications
One of the issues that arise, especially in large multi-site educational research projects, is whether to use school staff rather than researchers to collect data in schools. In many projects, the use of school staff can have advantages such as saving time and salary costs, as well as improving the quality of data as the school staff are already known to the students and therefore relationships do not have to be established before data collection can commence. However, there are also potential disadvantages, including school staff not fully understanding the protocols to be followed, not having adequate research training to be able to ensure fidelity to the original plan, or sufficient knowledge of the project or authority within it to be able to make decisions should questions about implementation occur. One area in particular in which school staff may lack adequate knowledge is of the National Health and Medical Research Guidelines and related documents that set out the principles of ethical research. Drawing on a series of case studies, this paper will discuss the responsibilities and issues facing researchers who choose to use school staff to collect data on their behalves, and the issues and responsibilities facing schools, principals and staff when they agree to become involved in data collection for research projects.