So today I received confirmation that my ethics application has been approved for the development of the iRights Youth Juries into an Open Educational Resource and practice. Although I’ve worked in academia, this is the first time I have had to apply for ethical approval; my bachelors degree did not require me to do any. There is a lot about my academic background that certainly makes me feel rather uneasy about being a PhD candidate, and it’s not that I have any regrets, it just means I have a lot of work to do!
So what can I say? I always thought that the ethics process was straight forward for most projects, and actually it really is. But for some reason, perhaps because of my lack of experience (and nerves), I managed to over complicate things so that a project that is reasonably straight forward sounded confusing and a bit of a mess. I used my colleague’s documentation from a previous application as a template for how I was going to structure mine. But because my project steps off hers, I feel (now after some feedback from the ethics board) that I probably overly anchored myself to her format and failed to do something more appropriate for my project. I am not speaking so much about the application form itself, but the other documentation that will be provided to participants.
One thing is for certain: I need to improve my writing and I need to improve it quickly. It has always been a weakness and I suppose that is one of the reasons I originally pursued photography for my bachelors: I’d like to believe I am visually literate. It’s strange because I really like the humanities; I did History and Geography for A-Level, dropping English Literature after AS-Level. They all required me to write essays, albeit formatted to please markers (but that’s another post entirely). At University, I always seemed to be “the academic one” because of my A-Levels and it felt like my abilities were comparatively quite decent*. But now I am playing with the big boys, training to be (dare I say it) a real researcher.
I think the biggest blow was that my participant information sheet was so unclear that talking about ‘informed consent’ was ironic. Even my approved version had some critical feedback. But I won’t get upset about it. The whole point of doing this project is to make mistakes and learn from them so that I can do better for my PhD research. I am looking forward to getting the project on the way so if you’re interested in supporting it and facilitating an iRights Youth Jury, please get in touch.
* This isn’t to say that media students can’t write, they can, only its style seemed very different to the humanities. Or at least it did to me.