Workshop and discussion exercises

Practice with these exercises to prepare for your seminars and wider research.

  1. Select an issue from the following list:

  • the education of children aged 5–8 years at school
  • self-harm in teenage children aged 12–16 years
  • community responses to large sporting events taking place locally
  • responses to being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in adults aged over 65 years
  • attitudes towards graffiti.

Outline possible ethical issues that may arise in your study and describe the procedures you would use to address these.

2. You are undertaking a study in one of the areas outlined in the last workshop and discussion exercise.

(a) You need to gain informed consent from participants (or guardians or carers) in order to do the study:

  • Draw up an information sheet for participants.
  • Draw up a consent form for participants.

(b) If working in a group or pairs, role play seeking and gaining consent for your hypothetical study. Swap roles (potential participant to researcher and vice-versa). After participation in the role play make a note of:

(i) As the research participant:

  • how you felt receiving the information
  • whether you felt the issues were fully explained to you
  • did you feel that you had opportunities to ask questions?

(ii)        As the researcher:

  • how well you thought the potential participants understood the study
  • purpose and process
  • did you give opportunities to ask questions?

Discuss your experiences. What have you learnt about ethical practice in social research?

3. Download an ethics application form from your local research ethics committee/institutional review board. Using one of the topics in the first workshop and discussion exercise, draft an ethics committee submission. If working in a group, critically appraise each other’s draft submissions. Record what you have learnt.

4. Consider undertaking a study using data from Twitter or another social media site. Discuss in pairs or groups the potential ethical challenges presented by such a study. Identify implications for individuals and populations. Identify processes for avoiding harm.

5. Write a dissemination plan for your study. Write a reflective account of the potential impact your study may have. Identify benefits and harms that could be produced from your study. How can you minimise the harms? Discuss with peers in pairs or small groups. Ask your peers to identify additional benefits and harms. Aim to consider the social contexts of the research participants and how they may receive your findings.