Write a short essay (Maximum 800 words) about your own research project. The essay will focus on both the ethical dimensions of the project, and the possible impact of the project in more general terms. Follow the below instructions for further details: & please mainly use the following 3 sources for writing the essay. I will upload them for you.
“All human interaction, including the interaction involved in human research, has ethical dimensions.” – National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2015), p. 3
“As a consequence of [writing this book], I have come to understand that the pursuit of evidence is probably the most pressing moral imperative of our time. All of our work as scholars, activists, and citizens of democracy depends on it.”
– Alice Dreger (2015), p. 11
“The label ‘steward’ conveys a role that transcends accomplishments and skills; it has an ethical and moral dimension. Stewards have a responsibility to apply their knowledge, skills, findings and insights in the service of problem solving or greater understanding. Self-identifying as a steward implies adopting a sense of purpose that is larger than oneself. One is a steward of the discipline, not simply the manager of one’s own career.”
– Chris Golde, “Preparing Stewards of the Discipline” (2006)
When you enter the Research Stage of the PhD you will become a Higher Degree Research candidate, and thus become a steward of your field; someone to whom is given responsibility for generating new knowledge, conserving old knowledge, and transforming knowledge (both generated and conserved) by teaching it to others.
The role of steward also has ethical and moral dimensions: to apply your knowledge in the service of problem-solving or understanding; to be both a critic and a caretaker of your field (not simply the manager of your own career); and to seek to understand and cultivate your field as part of the patchwork that makes up the broader landscape of human knowledge.
In this essay, we want you to write about what you see ahead as a researcher entrusted with the stewardship of your field. We are asking you to put on the mantle of steward of your field – we want to know what you see ahead of you when wear that garment. We want to know the principles that will guide you, and the moral compass you will set for yourself. We want to know what you think about the responsibilities of researchers in a democratic society.
With the above preamble in mind, you must write an essay that addresses the following types of questions:
What are the key problems or areas of new understanding where you can make a contribution? What areas of your field require critique, and what areas require care? How might your stewardship be enhanced by future engagement with stewards from other fields? How might you work together with colleagues towards general stewardship of the academy? How might you work with others as custodians of knowledge in the service of democracy?
Your response should take the form of a proper essay that is structured to persuade the reader of your argument. You do not need to respond to every question above, but you should grasp the essence of what we are asking and respond appropriately according to your own personal situation.
In addition to engaging with the Carnegie document on stewardship, good essays will demonstrate strong engagement with both the National Statement and Galileo’s Middle Finger, especially the themes from those documents signalled in the quotations on p. 1 of this Worksheet (above).
These texts should be read thoroughly and in details, so this is your chance to show us that you have attempted to engage with them seriously.
In other words, try to engage with the following themes:
• What does the National Statement say about “beneficence”, and how does this relate to your duties as a steward of the field? How does your work, and your field generally, contribute to the betterment of society? Why is it important that work in your field continue?
• If your work requires human ethics clearance, how do the principle of “justice” and “respect”, as expressed in the National Statement, relate to the responsibilities of stewardship?
How might you interpret these imperatives in the context of your own project?
• What do you think of Alice Dreger’s claim that “the pursuit of evidence is probably the most pressing moral imperative of our time”? How does this relate to your responsibilities as a steward of your field, and as a steward of the academy more broadly? Why is work in your field important for a free and democratic society where human flourishing is the prime objective?
• If we boil this down to a single question: How does work in your field contribute to the collective human project?
You may structure the essay however you wish at a rhetorical level, but good essays will keep the reader’s attention by connecting ideas in a compelling and convincing manner. Good essays will also show evidence of detailed reflective thinking, and will tell a confident story in response to the questions.
Tip: to convince a reader, you must first convince yourself.
This means you should spend plenty of time planning/drafting the essay to find ways of expressing why your project is important.
Freewriting is a good strategy to start working out your argument. Mind maps are also helpful. Another tip is to read all three texts regularly during the writing process, taking notes whenever you have ideas. (You are free to draw on other parts of the texts in addition to the above quotations.)
As a piece of academic discourse, this essay should be appropriately referenced. It is not necessary to have a long reference list, but additional items are welcome where relevant. All in-text references should be formatted according to your chosen referencing style.
This essay has three (3) main purposes:
1) To make you more familiar with the National Statement.
The National Statement is an important document that provides a framework against which professional research activity in this country should take place. As part of your research training, we want you to become familiar with this document when you apply for ethics in your PhD research project.
2) To start generating ideas that can be used in the impact statement for your Written Thesis.
All funded research needs to be justified in terms of its potential impact. You will need to do this in your Written Thesis
3), and verbally in your thesis presentation. This short essay is not the same as your Impact Statement, but it provides a ground of ideas that you will be able to draw on later. By completing this task and receiving feedback (which we will shape with your Impact Statement in mind), you have a chance to generate and refine ideas for the more important occasion.
3) To cultivate your ability to think in moral and ethical terms, both about your own project and about research as a public good.
As a researcher, there will be times when you have to defend your work and the work of your colleagues. You have the privilege of being able to create knowledge, which carries with it a weighty responsibility to act in the public good. As such, we want you to think of yourself not merely as researchers, but as citizens who are willing to defend the public value of research – as stewards of your field, and as stewards of the academic more broadly. You must always be ready and willing to justify your work in moral and ethical terms.
You are not simply here for yourself. You are here for others.
The Short Ethics Essay will be marked qualitatively out of 100, according to the following criteria:
1. KNOWLEDGE OF NATIONAL STATEMENT
Essays must demonstrate explicit knowledge of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2015). This will be evident in the way you discuss, summarize, connect, and paraphrase themes from the document.
2. YOUR ARGUMENT ABOUT STEWARDSHIP
This criterion assesses your response to the main questions of this essay (as outlined on p. 1 above). Essays must provide a convincing and compelling argument that shows deep engagement with the questions, and deep reflection on the responsibilities of stewardship. Good essays will hook the reader in the opening paragraph, and will sustain a narrative throughout the essay. Good essays will also connect themes from all three readings in an appropriate manner for your own personal circumstances.
3. WRITTEN EXPRESSION
Written expression must be at a high standard to achieve top marks. Good expression is more than just grammar, punctuation, and word choice – it is the way ideas are connected. At PHD level, students are expected to demonstrate an ability to express a range of complex ideas and connect them in sophisticated ways. These advanced skills are most evident in the ability to paraphrase and summarize while retaining a strong authorial voice.
Remember: vigorous writing is concise. Omit all unnecessary words.
The essay must be discursive in nature, meaning a more formal mode of writing than just Reflective Learning Journal. The key is finding a good pitch and developing an essay structure that flows nicely from one idea to the next, building an overall case in response to the questions.