I find it odd/annoying when I’m asked to participate in a research study about open practice, then the consent form for the study says that all identifying information will be removed and my contribution will be anonymous. To me this is a huge contradiction. The study is looking at practices that I do in the open, and yet my participation in the study itself is not allowed to be open.
Sure, some participants in the study may want to be anonymous, but as a participant shouldn’t I be the one that makes that choice? If anonymity does not affect the study itself (that is, there is no harm in identification, and no risk that my self-disclosing causes the identification of someone else that doesn’t self-disclose), then I should be given the choice. It should not be required that I not be identified.
The internet and participation in open practices is making this issue more poignant. I want to shout out to all IRBs and researchers: Your research participants should be given the choice of how they are identified in your research. You may actually be doing more harm by not identifying your participants – as you are taking their words and ideas and melding them into your research and not attributing them to the participants themselves. If there is no harm to other research participants, there is no reason to require that I not be identified.
So, yes, I’m happy to participate in the study, but I am the one that gets to choose how my words are attributed.
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