This reflection will go over some key learning points from completing my research project. I’ll be considering how I engaged and represented others as an ethical researcher, with emphasis on the importance of empathy and respect, time management, reflexivity, and having a clear communication plan.
This is the first university assessment where I’ve been required to complete an extensive research project. For me, the methods of ethical research were something I hadn’t considered before, and now I realise there’s more involved in research than just trying to find answers. Empathy and respect were two important aspects of this process for me. McCarthy, 2017 talks about the importance of empathy as a vital component to research design and design thinking. She argues that empathy is not merely ‘a box that needs checking’, but a continuous process for designers and researchers. Therefore empathy is part of our social obligation to our stakeholders and other people involved in research. For me, wording my survey carefully was important to avoid offending any group of people. Not that my survey had a gender focus, however for example, if I were to ask participants whether they were male or female, I would be unintentionally marginalising those of the trans-gender community. Consciously thinking about empathy and ethical research practices, I would make sure to include an ‘other’ box or something like that. Automation can be a touchy subject as some people feel threatened by the prospect of unemployment. In the survey, I asked participants about their current employment, and their thoughts towards losing their jobs to automation. I’ve ensured to make every question optional as not to pressure anyone into answering questions that could cause distress. I believe having a discussion about automation is important; however I understand that some people don’t want to think or talk about it either, and that’s where I need to have empathy and respect for my participants. After all, I don’t know any of them personally, and they are doing me a favour by completing the survey.
Another component of successful research is reflexivity; which is developing a research project with the intent both to learn about the world, and to influence the world. (Soros, 2009) Reflexivity played an important role in my research, as the future of work and automation is very much an issue of learning about the world in order to try and fix it. That is a hyperbolic statement, however the overall aim of the project is to try and change the way young people look at the development of technology and how it could affect their future job opportunities. Therefore, being reflexive is fundamental in shaping context around the issue of automation, i.e. what is automation and what can we do individually to prepare ourselves for an uncertain future in terms of employment?
Communicating what I’ve been doing would fall under the communication process, which enables readers to be updated on my research project. Communication needs to be clear in order to avoid confusion among readers. I have tried my best to update participants through my blog and will be posting my final report there too so everyone can view the full results and findings. To be honest, this is probably the poorest component of my research project. I’ve spent most of my time dedicated to background research, surveying and analysis, that I haven’t had enough time to talk about my project and share outcomes. This would be a result of time management…
Time management seems to be a reoccurring theme in my reflections at university; it’s also something I addressed extensively in Task 2. Efficient time management would increase effectiveness and productivity, and requires good planning in order to meet tight deadlines. After completing this project, I’ve realised more time should’ve been dedicated to the communication plan in order to maintain interest from readers, especially towards the end.
This research assessment has helped prepare me for future academic endeavours, where I will further explore research techniques to better understand the world around me. It’s also helped me understand the complex process of research, with so much emphasis on socially responsible research practices. As a final mention, I’ve enjoyed the chance to research something I’m personally interested in and hope that my future research at university can build upon lessons learnt from this project.
McCarthy, K. (2017). More than checking the empathy box. [Blog] dscout. Available at: https://blog.dscout.com/martha-cotton-fjord-people-nerds [Accessed 31 May 2017].
Soros, G. (2009). General theory of reflexivity. Financial Times.