Dr. George Veletsianos is the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology and a Professor in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University. Our class recently had the opportunity to present questions to him regarding research. From his responses, I gained a number of key insights including the following:
- It is essential to be knowledgeable about your research topic, including reading and understanding the relevant literature, before approaching potential participants. This ensures potential participants that you have done your background work and have an understanding of the phenomenon you are studying.
- Be conscious of your individual biases (such as your personal beliefs and gender bias). It is important to keep these biases in check. There is information available on ways to do this. For example, one way is to have multiple individuals working together to keep each others’ biases in check.
- Different sampling techniques are appropriate for different research studies. For example, if your study requires participants from a very specific group of people (for example, rural teachers) then snowball sampling may be helpful. Snowball sampling involves asking your current participants to identify other potential participants as they are from that group and therefore may be able to help you identify others from that group.
- Social media platforms each have advantages and disadvantages for conducting research. The most appropriate platform depends on your research question(s) and method.
- When collecting data for research, it is important to first consider your research question(s) and method. For example, if you are acquiring data through interviews, 12 to 20 interviews are generally recommended. Continue interviewing until you are confident that the new information you are getting is starting to get repetitive; this is called ‘saturation’. It is also important to consider the instruments you are using (for example, your interview script).
- Ethics in research is vital and, although we cannot predict what might be considered ethical in the future, the premise in research is to always minimize harm.
Many thanks to Dr. Veletsianos for his insightful responses. I have learned that, before conducting any research, there are many things to consider beyond basic data collection and analysis, including sample type and size, methodology, ethics (including participants’ wellbeing), personal biases, and appropriate uses of technology. It is the responsibility of the researcher to not only conduct research that is relevant, credible, legitimate and effective, but to do so in a way that meets or exceeds current ethical standards.