The consideration of data ethics is seldomly addressed in education research outside of standard human subjects training. As an education researcher, I am constantly thinking about the unintentional harms my research can have on research participants. Research safeguards to mitigate participant risk and harm start at the research planning phase and extend past the data analysis phase.
Data scientists and researchers contribute to the greater community by generating knowledge through the process of collecting and analyzing data to explain scientific phenomena. While the work of researchers and scientists focuses on the scientific method and knowledge generation for the community, there are no existing widespread oaths or standards to abide by—leaving the ethical onerous on the individual themselves.
Given the need for critical and rigorous ethical considerations in education research, the following principals outlined below present the ethical standards I aspire to uphold as a researcher:
I will actively seek to understand not who is included in my data, but also strongly consider who is not represented in my data and why.
I will consider the questions included in the instruments used to collect data and if they may unintentionally cause harm to participants or breach anonymity.
I will include at least one open-ended questions to provide participants with an opportunity to provide feedback on their terms instead of on mine (questions presented in closed-ended form).
I will actively seek to understand power differentials between my participants in my study and the stakeholders whom will receive the written report of findings.
I will report all levels of data and not exclude any small findings from a written report to further avoid marginalizing marginalized populations.
The ethical principles outlined above are dynamic and will be constantly revised and revisited as I continue to learn and serve my community through my work as a researcher.