Ethical Dimensions of My Research Design

Prior to examining the ethical aspects that will influence the design of my proposed research interest, I must address the fact that my research question has evolved entirely through the process of composing this SSHRC Program of Study assignment. As previously mentioned, I was interested in exploring whether the lack of Young Adult multilingual materials in Canadian public libraries can be attributed to a lack of interest in these materials from bi-/multi-lingual immigrant youth. A wealth of literature was discovered concerning practices and policies around Multilingual Collections Development and the information-seeking behaviours of immigrants in the public library setting, yet the research was not fruitful for the purpose of my study on the information needs of newly immigrated bi-/multi-lingual teens. I therefore abandoned this research interest (for now) and sought to draw elements of this interest into a new realm involving immigrants, cultural heritage, information practices and the family photo album.

Being a first-generation Canadian living with immigrant parents, I have fostered a life-long fascination with the ways in which my family collects, organizes, and maintains photo albums. The photo albums in my household function as a documents containing a collection of information which negotiates our hybrid Polish-Canadian identity. Yet, the information practices involved in family photo albums varies according to the level of engagement or authority an individual has in the creation of family and cultural narratives within the albums themselves. Therefore, in my research thesis, I am interested in exploring how the family photo album functions as a tool for cultural heritage preservation in the Canadian immigrant household.

My research study will be conducted within the University of Toronto community, targeting households that are located within the Greater Toronto area for the purpose of access to participants. The subjects of this study will be first generation immigrant students and their parent(s) and/or relatives with whom they have shared a household with for the majority of their life. Since the human subjects of study will primarily be immigrants, I must consider all possible scenarios involving the levels of English language communication and comprehension. As Prof. Dean Sharpe highlighted in his presentation, the principle of welfare must be employed to ensure a level of respect towards human subjects at all levels of being. Language barriers fall under the social, and often mental, aspects of this principle. To eliminate perceived linguistic barriers, I have chosen to call upon University of Toronto students who are first-generation Canadians to be the first point of contact as participants in this study. Sharpe also mentioned that new chapters in qualitative research explicitly acknowledges the ongoing consent of individuals involved. According to the principles of autonomy, I must understand all participants in my research as free agents who have the right to opt out of this study at any point in time. Therefore, it will also be clearly outlined at the beginning of the participant recruitment process that the subject’s involvement in this study relies on whether his or her household members will provide future consent towards their involvement in this study. If any participating member within the family chooses to opt out of the research, then the case itself must be dismissed and all documentation produced will be destroyed for ethical reasons.

Olivia Wisniewski


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