Skills needed to handle human subjects…

16 Dec

It is great that research participants, particularly vulnerable populations, are ethically protected (in terms of privacy, confidentiality, informed consent, and justice etc.).  Because as Guariento (2010) argues (although her article is not included in the course readings, let me quote her statement here as it is useful), the power balance between adult researchers and children, particularly immigrant children, who are researched is not equal, with ethics reviews, the risk that they can be exploited as “being researched” can be minimized.  At the University of Toronto, any research involving human subject needs approval from the university’s Research Ethics Boards before research can be conducted, but I wonder, what if a proposal written by a graduate student does not get approved for a long period of time?  Although his or her supervisor/committee members have a responsibility for reviewing the proposal, it may be possible that their research will be delayed as human subject research is ethically very complicated.  Research requires not only a broad range of knowledge in methodologies, but also skills in handing sensitive human subjects.  

Guariento, G.F. (2010). Without a Safety Net: Participatory Techniques inResearch with Young Migrants. Enquire, 5, 95-116. Retrieved from:


Online/Offline Data

16 Dec

I nodded my head when I read Orgad’s statement that to understand the research population’s online context, researchers need to understand their offline context.  I do not analyze the Internet in my research, but I understand Orgad’s point that to understand breast cancer patients’ online engagement (online), which is a part of their coping experience with their illness, their experience of breast cancer (offline) needs to be considered.  Definitely, online and offline data are equally important.  Treating online data as less valuable than offline data should not happen, but it may be common as it is true that there is too much information (especially unreliable information) available in the Internet.

Finishing Touches and Critiques

15 Dec

While finishing up my proposal, I couldn’t help but think of something that Prof Grimes mentioned in one of our last classes. We had just handed in our peer review assignments at the time, and she was talking about how easy it can be to find the flaws in others’ research, and yet so difficult to find them in our own. And as I wrapped up the final pages of my experimental design, typed up the mini lit review, and thought about my overall proposed study, I couldn’t help but see those flaws! Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, but when I first began designing and writing up my report, I thought it was great. Flawless and unique, in fact! But the more literature review I did, and the more I thought about my own paper, I started to realize the many ways that my own ideas could be ripped to shreds by a reviewer. I mean, I still think it’s great (lol), but that could just be a result of my delirious, sleep-deprived state. I’ll just think of this as a draft. Of many more to come…

Sufficiency of Sample Size

15 Dec

“The question is what would be an efficient sample size, one that is sufficiently large to be trustworthy and sufficiently small to be affordable.” (Knight, p.120)

I came across this quote while finishing up my paper, and it struck me as being oddly simple at first glance. Before starting this final proposal, I figured I’d just choose an easily-accessible  group of people and that was that. (First year Psychology students seemed to be a popular selection, so I thought, why not?) After hearing Prof Grimes’ opinion of this over-studied group, and thinking that she was completely correct, I decided to switch gears and choose a (slightly) more varied sample. It was difficult, though; how small is too small, and how varied is too varied, I wondered? I’m not still not really sure about the answer, and I guess it’s something that all researchers inevitably struggle with. All I know now is that there’s nothing simple about the research process.

Case Study Analysis

15 Dec

Yin’s (1981) article explains that research participants in case studies may complain about distortion of data (ex. Participants were forced to make oversimplified answers or what they said was misinterpreted).  I thought that case studies were useful in that good research results produced by case study analysis can be generalized, but I was not aware that there may be risks between researchers and research participants.  I feel that any research involving participants is difficult as researchers need to be sensitive to more than just accuracy.  I do not want to offend anyone involved, so I may want to verify data with participants BEFORE it is analyzed.  This may ensure stronger reliability of data.  However, I am not sure if time can afford to do this…

After reading Dijk’s article about Critical Discourse Analysis

15 Dec

An impressive quote from Dijk (1993):

Thus, if immigrants, refugees and (other) minorities suffer from prejudice, discrimination and racism, and if women continue to be subjected to male dominance, violence or sexual harassment, it will be essential to examine and evaluate such events and their consequences essentially from their point of view

I found that critical discourse analysis was a complicated sociological approach to the study of discourse, but it must be a good method to justify equity issues.  Critical discourse analysis enables us to look at the world from the perspectives of people who “suffer most from dominance and inequality,” (Dijk) instead of those of people in power who can influence people through text and talk in order to pursue their own interests.  For my research proposal, the research participants are Japanese immigrant women who do not have active control and access to discourse, and thus, analyzing text and talk of the population will identify their position and needs.  Although I have chosen an interview method for my research, critical discourse analysis would have revealed different perspectives of the population that would help readers understand this group better.  I feel that I need to be very careful to choose a research methodology or I may miss a good opportunity to obtain a better research result.           
Note: I had not updated blog posts for a long time, but I am catching up.  To be continued…

APA Style Guide

11 Dec

Since all of us are probably scramming to get our research proposals done, I’ll just make this brief post:

For those of us who don’t remember how to cite in APA style, the link below is the “quick and dirty” guide I use

Enjoy 🙂