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GS/PPAL 6200 3.00 Section N
Research Methods and Information
January 20, 2015
Professor Brenda Spotton Visano
Office: 130 McLaughlin
Voice Mail: (416) 736-2100 ext. 20470
E-mail: spotton@yorku.ca
• Review of last class
• Ethics in Information and Research
– Information and research ethics
– Brief guide to ethical decision making
– Definition and scope of research ethics
• Questions to guide class discussion of readings
Review of Last Class
• Introduction to Data Sources
– Guest Speaker: Mr. Walter Giesbrecht, Librarian, Scott
Library, York University
• Introduction to Research Methods (cont’d)
– Criteria for Evaluating Research (reliability, validity:
construct, internal, external)
– Research Orientation (Methods – qualitative:
interviews, textual analyses; quantitative: statistical
analyses, simulations)
– Research Design (experimental, cross-section,
longitudinal, case study)
– Checklist for Reviewing Research
Checklist for Reviewing Research
Case study: “Analyzing E-Government Research…”
Heeks and Bailur (2006)
Course Objective: Example of how to categorize research and assess its quality
Article Subject: E-government research
Reviewing the article:
– Authors’ Research Question: What are the perspectives on and approaches to research on egovernment”? (E-government defined as whatever is published in e-government journals)
– Philosophy: considers both positivist and constructionist views
– Research Design: content/textual analysis
– Data Collection Method: articles published in 2 refereed journals and 1 conference
proceedings in “e-government” between 2001-2005
– Data Analysis Method: 25 analytical scales to assess impact, philosophy, theory, method, and
practical recommendations of e-government research
– Sample Size and Representativeness: unknown, since “leading research outlets” undefined; all
sources US and Europe focused
– Conclusions: “E-government research is…in a poor state.” Reflects “fragmented adhocracy”
[lacking in structure] with no clear prioritization of research problems
– Reliability/Replicability: medium to high
– Validity: construct [scales] validity tested on half of the papers; internal validity: high if scale
attributes reflect relevant attributes; external validity: unknown, since representativeness
Information Ethics
Information ethics: Standards governing the
organization, distribution, and use of information.
Questions to motivate thinking about public
• Why are health records confidential?
• Why are tax documents not made public?
• What information should be publicly available;
what should require individual’s consent?
• “Only people with something to hide object to
publicly available personal information.”
Defining the Boundaries of
Information Privacy and Access
• What are the benefits of the “public record”
and publicly available information?
– Class suggestions…
• What are the negative consequences of
publicly available personal information?
– Class suggestions…
Guide to Ethical Practices in
Distribution and Use of Information
• Philosophical criteria: is it morally right/wrong
in and of itself? Is it morally right/wrong in
consequence? Are individual rights negotiable
when confronting collective rights?
• Practical criteria: What are the 7 principles of
“Privacy” and the 7 principles of “Access” to
information according to Ontario’s Privacy
Research Ethics
• Research ethics: Standards governing the creation of information – the
planning, conduct and reporting of research
• Includes:
Protection of human and animal subjects
Collection, use and interpretation of data
Reporting and reviewing research plans, findings
Relationships between researchers (authorship, collaboration), researcher
and subject/those affected by research, conflicts of interest, whistleblowing
Means of responding to disputes
• The Tri-Council Framework is concerned with which ethical issues in the
conduct of research? How does the York University Senate Policy on
Research Involving Human participants relate to the Tri-Council Policy?
Level 2: Critical Understanding
• Compare and contrast the Tri-Council
Framework with the Privacy and Access
Principles. Does or can the Tri-Council
Framework address issues related to the
networking of large-scale data systems?
Level 3: Application
• As a researcher, you need to conduct inperson interviews. How will you ensure
adherence to the Principles of Consent (Ch. 3,
Tri-Council Policy Statement). How will you
ensure Privacy in the release of your results?
Ethics, Public Policy, Law and Research
• http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/govdb/fdtf/
Level 4: Analysis of complexities and
• You want to research a highly controversial issue…if you
fully disclose the research to research participants you fear
their responses will be altered to mask the behavior you
are researching. What should you tell the participants?
• Your research involves interviewing public servants. In the
process of those interviews, you discover that some have
been falsifying signatures to advance public security. As a
result of your report, which discloses the practice but
retains confidentiality of the respondents, senior officials
demand you reveal the confidential respondent
information so that the respondents can be brought to
justice for their illegal actions. How do you reconcile the
conflicting principles (of privacy and publicity) when both
are designed to protect the public good?