The Ethics for Healthy Research

This post originally appeared on student Shane McLaughlin’s website.

Ethics
Ethics, photograph taken by Dan Mason, Flickr, 2013

This year, 2020, has been a very different year for all of humanity. Nothing could have prepared everyone for the COVID disaster, which is still going in large affect. One thing everyone has seen is awareness on how to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. A healthy mind can lead to a healthy body, and vice versa. Many people have realized this year of the need to stay healthy, mentally and physically. Many people are now doing what is best and healthy for them, so that they do not either fall sick or hurt themselves mentally. Overall, the universal theme of healthiness is now in the mind of everyone on the planet. However, when it comes to research, is it done in a healthy and safe manner? Throughout the semester, we’ve been taught on how to properly and safely research, in ways that allow freedom of expression from all sides. For this post I want to talk about goals and ideas that researchers should try to abide by while researching. The document, The Feminist Manifest-no, provides a set of ethics that researchers should try to abide to. Today, I will be talking about some of my favorite points and ethics that I think we should strive to abide by, when it comes to research.

The Feminist Manifest-No gives us multiple ethics that we should try to follow when we are researching, especially about those who have been historically part of marginalized communities. Starting with the realization that the data that may already exist may have biases. In the book, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy, by Dr. Roopika Risam, she explains the concerns of postcolonial biases in data. She states, “In the context of the digital cultural record, digital archives hold both the risk of reaffirming colonial discourse and the promise of challenging it through the development of new archives and design practices. Among postcolonial approaches to digital humanities, there are significant opportunities to develop digital archives that remediate colonial violence, write back to colonial histories, and fill gaps in knowledge that remain a legacy of colonialism” (Risam 47). We have an obligation to find the truth in data, and we need to present that truth. In the Feminist Manifest-No, it has a similar point from Dr. Risam. The Feminist Manifest-No states that, “We refuse the expansion of forms of data science that normalizes a condition of data extractivism and is defined primarily by the drive to monetize and hyper-individualize the human experience. We commit to centering creative and collective forms of life, living, and worldmaking that exceed the neoliberal logics and resist the market-driven forces to commodify human experience” [6]. This is the point of putting people over profit. As researchers, we need to remember that we are helping people show their identity, and one that might have been stripped over a long period of time. The Manifest-No reminds us to help those who have been previously suppressed.

The document has 32 points that researchers should try to follow. Another great point is that of, “We refuse to ‘close the door behind’ ourselves. We commit to entering ethically compromised spaces like the academy and industry not to imbricate ourselves into the hierarchies of power but to subvert, undermine, open, make possible” [10]. As researchers, we cannot do this task alone. To provide the best and truest data, we need every bit of help we can get. We should strive to invite those with personal experience on the subject to create spaces of knowledge together. Personal experience is often a great tool that helps in understanding the subject. Another excellent point the Manifest-No brings to the table, “We refuse work about minoritized people. We commit to mobilizing data so that we are working with and for minoritized people in ways that are consensual, reciprocal, and that understand data as always co-constituted’ [8]. This point is perhaps my favorite in the entire document, as it calls for unity rather than further division and exploitation. With unity, we can get the best data, and present it in a manner that is respectful to those who the data talks and reveals about. Dr. Risam as well talks about this stating that, “We must ensure that the stories and voices which have been underrepresented in both print and digital knowledge production-those from formerly colonized countries, from indigenous communities, and from those who are marginalized in their national contexts-can be heard” (Risam 139). Dr. Risam also calls out for unity, to help bring a voice to those who had been suppressed for years and years. When people come together to tell a story, we can get multiple perspectives, which we can use to find the ultimate truth of the data. Behind every story, there is another human being.

The need for ethically collected data is very important to the world. When data is consensually collected and prepared, it can tell a truly wonderful story. Practicing data collection in a healthy manner is good for those on all sides, as it will the true story of how people truly felt, and not just through one set of lenses. Looking through a single and biased view on the matter will just show only a part of the story, and not the whole truth. Documents as the Feminist Manifest-No encourage researchers to promote and practice good data collecting habits. With multiple ideas covering a variety of subjects, it truly helps one think about how to collect the best and truest data in a respectful manner, rather than exploiting others for monetary gain. I would like to encourage readers to look over the Manifest-No and read through it, and maybe mention some of your favorite points from it that you think you will remember as a professional researcher. We should strive for ethically collected data, as it betters our understanding of our fellow men and women here on earth.

References:

“Complete Version – Feminist Data Manifest.” Feminist Data Manifest-No . Accessed December 14, 2020. https://www.manifestno.com/home.

Risam, RoopikaNew Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy. EVANSTON, ILLINOIS: Northwestern University Press, 2019. Accessed December 14, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv7tq4hg.

 

Source: The Ethics for Healthy Research