Greetings all – We had a question come in about students in INFO 200 interviewing or surveying members of their chosen community. This prompted some discussion amongst the 200 instructors and the chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) on campus. Some important clarifications follow.
Please do not create or utilize any type of data gathering instrument like surveys or formal interviews for any assignments in INFO 200. Those procedures are way out of the scope of the assignments. A survey, for example, opens up issues with privacy and reliability as well as the fact that research with human subjects requires training. We cannot take privacy concerns or breeches lightly or risk any incident where someone can tell who a community member is in any way. When you take INFO 285 Research Methods, you will learn all about various methodologies and insuring the privacy of human subjects. You will learn all about the procedures for surveying, interviewing, and observing human subjects and how you can use direct quotations, qualitative/quantitative data, and more in research projects vetted by IRB.
For now, focus on your research in the scholarly and professional literature concerning the information behaviors of your community and what you can glean by exploring the community-based resources.