Edited Inksheds on

Session III: on Research and Projects
Short Reports on Research and Projects
Philippa Spoel, Mary Kooy, Lorri Neilsen and Nan Johnson

I'm especially interested in Mary's point that who she is, her roles, and her social relationships, all affect what she does, and what she brings to her research. -- J.M.

We want to give the writer power, but in the very act of giving it we are reaffirming that it's ours to give - and thus take it away in the same motion. So how do we expect the writer to react except by trying to wrest some power out of the situation? -- Russ

What about linking "the personal" to wider issues ? Isn't part of the point of an education to help people view their own experience through the lens of wider theoretical concerns - and also to view that wider theory to see if it squares with personal experience? -- Marcy

The point of ethics, it seems to me, is to control, trammel, direct, redirect, baffle, break up, fragment, harness, shape, mitigate, identify, label and make visible the awfulness of brute power - whether it's the power of the state, the fist, the demagogue, the flood of feeling, the priest or the teacher. -- Susan

If [the story] … is "true", we will respond in a certain way not only to the content of the piece but to the ethos of the writer. Who is this person? -- Laura

I neither silence this personal voice nor actively encourage it. But I am very very careful in my response. I have, on rare occasions, walked students to counselling services when I felt their need for help surpassed what I could offer. -- Vivian

Perhaps the ethical consideration in this, as in the research question, is to what use do you put the writing? Who sees it and why and what are the consequences to the writer? -- Theresa

How we handle the personal is cultural and individual and people's fragility can emerge unpredictably. -- Leslie

Given the history of the widespread rampant use of research to support colonial systems of violence, control, and assimilation, how can we ethically not theorize research relations in the process of conducting research? -- Victoria

This is so friggin' problematic that I'm silenced [marginalium]. -- Stan

When I create a space for personal disclosure, I am not the only RESPONDENT in the class. Other students read and respond to the writing. Do they deserve consideration here? Do they deserve protection from the intense emotionalism of their fellow students' writing? -- Sandy

Some students want to write about important events in their lives, and frequently ask "Did you like it? Did you understand?" I suspect that for some of our students who are immigrants it's a rare chance to validate their experience. -- Betty

I'm intensely aware of people's different judgments being based on their different teaching experiences and contexts. It's fascinating how the "ethic of care," in all its forms, demands of us an ever-increasing circle of tolerance. How easy it would be (from this perspective) to be part of a strong, single, dominant, unified ideology, one in which ethics were indeed RULES -- rules of conduct, rules of "character: that did not bent to context or circumstance. -- Ann

We never start with a tabula rasa, in other words, and need to remember this. -- Brock

Too often I have felt that once I passed the official ethics review that somehow I was able to put on some kind of magic clock of immunity to further ethical concerns…. The ultimate responsibility for all manner of ethical behaviour lies with the researcher who, as Lorri said, has to be able to sleep at night. Pat

Re: Mary. It seems to me that her earlier work in the classroom was DIRECTLY responsible for her current learning and writing. Without this earlier experience the research she's conducting now wouldn't have its edge. Her own autobiographical experience as a graduate student feeds in a continual way her personal/professional life now.

Many students, especially first-year students, those most often required to engage in such writing are often naïve and believe they must do as the teacher says.

If we push ethics to the extreme we can talk ourselves out of everything - most things anyway. Perhaps we should use ethics in another way - to legitimize positive change. -- Tony

What about this relationship between the personal, expressive voice in writing and the more disciplined, formal kind? I'm not certain we really understand it, nor can we generalize about the relationship. It is complex and very much individually defined. … I am suggesting here the tension Philippa suggests is not as evident or as simple as we sometimes represent it. -- Patricia

Why is it wrong to focus our responses on the craft of presentation? Don't we trust our dicta that using precise detail, active voice, etc. is a mark of honesty?

I sensed power at the root of the dilemmas in Lorri's case as well. Here the instructor levels the relational field as much as possible by writing herself, but since she finally has the power of the grade, she retains power over her students who are engaged in the intimate exercise of writing themselves. -- [Thom]

Totally sidetracked by that bus driver's question: What kind of shed are we? Watershed? Toolshed? Coal shed? Cats shed? You have to love how an innocent outside query can utterly derail your train of thought. -- [M]

I'm still really uncomfortable with the "disclosure" stuff. Even if the assignment doesn't specifically ask for it (eg. Your most horrendous experience), it is still clear that other students in the class are disclosing & that this is ... valued? respected? Appreciated? Privileged? What you're really supposed to do? Yet I agree about the importance of the personal (remember when we weren't supposed to say "I think" in an academic paper?), & I'm very fuzzy about the links among voice -- personal -- disclosure -- subjectivity. Or I guess I mean how to unlink them to think about each discretely.

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