The challenges of ethnics

There are different definitions of how one should act ethnically. From my perspective, being ethical in research means acting in a truthful, fair, and moral manner. More specifically, people who conduct research should be careful to not only to conduct their research progress in an ethnical way but report their data in a truthful way. 

I am interested in working with underrepresented communities, but along with this population comes vulnerability and risk. For example when working with immigrants and refugees, researchers come across the dilemma of balancing humanitarian issues and keeping a scientific rigor. As researchers get involved with participants, they might become attach which may cause experimental bias. It may cause them to bias, in the way that they might alter data unintentionally to impact policies for the good of this vulnerable population. Another issue that rises while working with immigrants and refugees is confidentiality issues and issues with consent forms. Most research studies create an inform consent to help the participant gain insight about the study, and to obtain their signature to know they agree with the requirements asked of them. Although they know this is a voluntary action, many of immigrants and refugees who have a language barrier may be unaware. They might fear signing something they cannot understand, but do it anyways because they may feel the researcher has authority over them. So the researcher might come across the dilemma of using an inform consent with signature or giving them an oral consent form. But some complications with having an oral consent form is that the participant will not have a written paper stating the risks and benefits of study and the participant may forget that they can withdraw from study at any time. In addition, confidentiality issues are a big concern when working with these populations. Some unethical concerns may be the possibility of disclosing participant’s identity and immigration status unintentionally to other members of community (e.g., two families from the same community see each other as they are coming in for an interview, thus they figure out they are undocumented, and might cause fear for both families).

Some of the ethnical dilemmas I have encountered were similar to the example stated above. I was doing an interview with an undocumented student in a room ( which I had reserved but was unlocked) , and someone walked in the room. We were in the middle of doing the interview. The person who walked in the room knew I was doing a research project on this population. Thus there was a possibility that the person knew my participant was undocumented. I was faced with a split moment decision on how to handle the situation. I decided to give the room to the person, and told him we were leaving for lunch. He was unaware that I was doing a interview session, and this helped keep the participant identity a secret. This still raises some problems but I tried to eliminate further incidents like this and I did my interviews in a more private room for the rest of the sessions.

I have learned a lot more about ethnical issues and how to handle them during this summer. Specially the workshops have helped me. For example the workshop about responsible conduct of research was very insightful. It helped me think of other ethnical concerns that may rise during academia and while conducting research. It mostly helped me understand ethnical issues during graduate school.

The beauty and challenges of research

In the last decades the demographics of the U.S has changed dramatically. As we sit in a meeting, during class, in a coffee shop we encounter a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. Every person we encounter has a story, a struggle and different immigration status. There is an estimated of 11.2 undocumented immigrants (Passel,& D’Vera Cohn, 2011), with about 80,000 youth graduating from a U.S high school every year ( Passel, 2006). The ethnic background of these undocumented immigrants is diverse with high populations migrating from Central America, Asia, Mexico & the middle east ( Passel 2009). As these undocumented immigrants settle in a new country, they undergo extreme financial and psychological stressors. Thus, my project will be examining the psychological well-being of undocumented students from two different social and political environments. More specifically, I will be analyzing qualitative interview sessions to create a code book. In addition, I will be preparing to write the introduction to a manuscript on the findings from this project. 

I have been studying this topic about two years. I did a previous research project when I was in research rookies. I looked at the mental health of undocumented students who grew up in a suburban area. Throughout the process of developing these two research projects, I have learned a lot about the field of cross-cultural psychology. Since the literature on the mental health of undocumented college students is limited, I have been able to learn a lot about most of the existing studies. However, I still have a lot to learn and develop. Thus, one of the challenges I might encounter is not having innovative literature on this topic, or having my data be very similar to others. I want to find innovative findings but my topic might be too broad. For example, I am looking broadly at undocumented students psychological well-being (i.e., sense of self, relation with others, autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, purpose of life) instead of looking at a certain aspect of their well-being such as their sense of self. Although, the interview questions I asked touched on each area of their psychological well-being, my findings will be able to have information on each section which will help other researchers who only focus on one area of their well-being.

One of the workshops that helped me develop my research skills and lessen my fear of experiencing challenges along my project has been the Zotero workshop. It helped me become more organized, so I could keep track of the articles I am reading to help me write the introduction to my manuscript. The leadership workshops also helped me. It helped build my confidence as a researcher, and learn how to be a leader in research. Although my project is mostly working with my faculty mentor, I also work with two additional coders that decided to help me analyze my data. Thus, I learned how to become an effective leaders and researcher to develop an amazing end result of my project.



Beginning of a great summer

As any new experience there is always difficulties, but there is also excitement to a new journey. That is my mindset while coming to SROP. I am excited to learn more about research, and being exposed to new minds and cultural backgrounds. It is especially exciting to have so many new and diverse students in all three programs. This week I have learned many new perspectives on how to approach research. I have really enjoyed meeting and interacting with all the students from the 3 programs during the workshops. Sometimes we unconsciously only interact with students that we often relate to and never interact with others, because we are scared of the unknown and uncertainty. This program really pushes you to open your circle of friends, colleagues, and network. It has been nice to interact with this diverse group.

Although it was refreshing to interact with other researchers, we also had to work hard and concentrate on our proposal. Although, I have worked on various research proposal, it never gets easier. It still gets complicated because it gets hard to explain your ideas/project in 6 pages. Thus, you really have to be direct and to the point since there is a page limit. It was also complicate because the goals of my project is structured differently. I am analyzing a previous dataset and preparing to write a manuscript. Thus I had to adjust some of the questions from the proposal to fit to my project. In general, I think the process of writing my proposal was not as difficult as I thought it would be. In addition, my proposal writing process was not as difficult because of the great workshops SROP has create for us. I did another summer research program last summer, and I was surprised that this program had more workshops on writing our proposal. The other program did not make us write a proposal, and did not give us advice on how to write one. I liked that SROP at Northern Illinois University makes us write one, so we can enhance our writing.

Thus, I am excited to see what SROP at NIU has offered for us. I hope they also do preparation for graduate school and how to write better in the research world. Can’t wait to see how much I will grow this summer. I am ready for research!!