My research on the topic “Why international students from Asian countries choose to stay in Australia after graduating?” has come to an end. More than three months of researching and I have learnt a lot from this project. My opinions towards the job of conducting a research significantly changed. That I used to think writing a research simply included reading through academic journals, organising interviews/surveys and writing up the final report based on what have been conducted. Nevertheless, it is a more complicated process and researchers are working harder than people think to come up with an ultimate qualified work. Throughout the project making process, I have been gaining a further understanding on how to become an ethical researcher and improve myself with helpful research skills.
As for my research report, I have introduced its idea to some of the international student associations to attract participants for the interviews. Before the project, I thought conducting interviews was as easy as forming a formal conversation with the participants and asking them questions related to the topic. However, as “research ethics is specifically interested in the analysis of ethical issues that are raised when people are involved as participants in research” (Walton), there were steps that needed to be taken into consideration in order to protect the rights of the interviewees. It is crucial to ask for participants’ permission before conducting the interviews. If not permitted, even though they may be potential sources of knowledge, the rights of the interviewees still “outweigh the benefits of the research” (Markham & Buchanan 2012, p. 4), and we are not allowed to access their information under any circumstances. But that is not everything. After receiving the acceptance of the interviewees, the interviews cannot start unless a “consent form” is signed. While myself comes from a different academic background, writing a consent form to record the interviewees’ agreement is thoroughly a new approach of doing ethical research to me. But I find doing all those steps essential. It helps me develop critical thinking on what should and should not be done in researching, which is an important skill to any media practitioners in the future.
During the project, I was dealing with overwhelmed sources of information. I typed my research topic on searching engines such as Google and there were thousands of articles related to the issue. That when it seriously came to my attention on how to select valuable information. Lupton’s WordPress blog post (2016) has mentioned that information in this digital era can be accessed easily through different sources including the Internet, however, they are not always accurate and it is an important job of researchers to evaluate the credibility of every piece of information they put out in the final report. One of the effective ways to select good information I have learned is to consider the authorship before deciding to whether or not, choose the information. Considering using publications from “the author that does have credentials” (Betts 2010, p. 4) can help increase the reliability of the information we used.
In addition, as an international student, I have had difficulties with academic writing. However, no one has noticed me before that I should have paid more attention and efforts into my writing skill. Thanks to my tutor’s comments, I know that one of my big weaknesses is expressing my opinions through written words. This early notice helps me keep an eye on my writing more. I have learned to proofread the papers before submitting and find some of the support tools to make my writing better. This not only helps my research project get better but also prepare me with a great awareness on academic writing skill, which is crucial for my career in the future.
With the conscientious help from my lecturer and tutor, I have now known how to develop a step-by-step research plan. The research has been finished but what I have learned during the project producing process will be helpful for the further future time period. After the project, I not only found a deeper understanding and knowledge on the issue that I was curious about but also gained myself with practical skills on conducting academic research. Ultimately, I realised that the research has been one of the important steps to help me achieve my goal in life – that is to make people understand one another and different cultures thoroughly and make the world a better place to live in.
Walton, N, What Is Research Ethics?, ResearchEthics.ca, wordpress blog post, viewed 24 May 2017, <https://researchethics.ca/what-is-research-ethics/>.
Markham, A & Buchanan, E 2012, Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research: Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working Committee (Version 2.0), Association Of Internet Researchers, viewed 24 May 2017, <https://aoir.org/reports/ethics2.pdf>.
Lupton, M 2016, Critical Evaluation of Information: Credibility Crisis, Inquiry Learning and Information Literacy, wordpress blog post, 7 March, viewed 28 May 2017, <https://inquirylearningblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/critical-evaluation-of-information-credibility-crisis/>.
Betts, SN 2010, Evaluating Information Sources, Post University, viewed 28 May 2017, <http://post.edu/docs/default-source/library/evaluating-information-sources.pdf?sfvrsn=2>.