Before conducting any research an application to HREC (Human Research Ethics Committee) at The OU outlining the research proposal was made. To ensure full compliancy an enquiry for further submission to SRPP (Student Research Project Panel) was also made to be informed that as OU students wouldn’t be specifically targeted additional SRPP ethical approval wouldn’t be required. Upon HREC approval further ethics application was made and granted from the Open Media Unit to research and release data on The OU’s open educational resources.
In line with guidelines of BERA and the Association of Internet Researchers the moral duty to respect privacy, confidentiality and anonymity is adhered to. Whereby interviews were used, introductory text was read out at the beginning of each of the interviews (Appendix 1), and participants asked whether they would agree to the presence of a recording device. All participants were informed that their responses would remain anonymous as they would be allocated an identification number for future reference within the research. For the surveys in the initial (Appendix 2) and main study, the introductory page of both surveys display the ethical research statement detailing the purpose of the research, how the research will be used, how to exit the survey at any time, contact details for further information, and that by clicking to enter the questionnaire is a confirmation of acceptance of the ethical statement (information on how withdraw is also given).
Most of the data is collected through the use of surveys and interviews however to protect the participants involved the allocation of a number will anonymise them in this process. The list of names to allocated numbers is be kept in a password protected spreadsheet that will form part of the use, storage, and disposal requirements of the other data gathered for the research. Only completed papers, reports and publications will be published whereby participants are anonymised to protect their privacy addressing Bryman’s (2001) ethic principles and Bassey’s (1999) ethical values, whilst adhering to the guidelines set by BERA (1992).