SEMINAR: Psst... Wanna Eavesdrop on My Research? Transplanting Radical Transparency Practices from Hacker Culture and Disability Activism into the World of Qualitative Research in Education

Event Date: April 18, 2013
Speaker: Mel Chua, Graduate Student, School of Engineering Education
Time: 3:30pm
Location: B071 ARMS

"Thank you for participating in this interview. Your data will now be anonymized and kept in a black box. Perhaps someday I will publish my interpretations of your words." Okay, that's an exaggeration; most qualitative researchers involve their subjects more than that -- and sometimes we do need to protect the confidentiality of our subjects. But what if they don't want to be anonymous? What if they want to hear and learn from the stories of others like them? What if they want to know how other people make sense of their thoughts -- and they want to know them now, while they're still in the middle of the process you're interviewing them about?

That's where Radically Transparent Research comes in. Inspired by the practices of open communities such as Free and Open Source software, hardware, and content projects, we don't analyze confidential, de-identified datasets behind closed doors. Instead, we assign copyright of the interview transcripts to our interviewees, who then release public versions of their data under a Creative Commons license. We analyze only the public dataset and make our intermediate analyses and results available online under similarly open licenses, which allows our subjects and the communities they work with and within to see - and contribute to - the "source code" of our research, allowing populations to engage in research who may not otherwise even be able to participate in this side of academia. We wind up with public and collaboratively constructed artifacts with the potential to broaden awareness of and participation in research while creating a compendium of stories that can be shared with other practitioners considering similar transformations to their own practices -- including people from other disciplines, who often don't get to "overhear" the conversations going on inside our world.

This presentation will, among other things…

· Show a few examples of pilots of radically transparent research being used in engineering education projects and student work (since that's the discipline I come from)

· Demo the live transcription setup and what sort of affordances it gives interviewers (instant participant checking! remote researcher participation!)

· Discuss the copyright and licensing setups needed to pull this off (aka "how do I explain this to IRB?") and implications for dissemination and broader impact of your research

Mel Chua is proud to be a hacker -- not the kind that breaks into computers, but the Open Source / Free Culture kind that playfully tinkers with technologies in order to broaden access to tools and knowledge to all of humankind (at least that's the idea; we know it's an ambitious one). Her research focuses on applying practices and cultural principles from those communities to academia, especially as they apply to faculty development and curricular change. Someday this will turn into her dissertation. The Engineering Education school at Purdue University has somehow managed to tolerate her as a PhD student for 2 years so far. Prior to Purdue, Mel put her electrical and computer engineering background (Olin College BS '07) to use with the Teaching Open Source, Fedora Linux, Sugar Labs, and One Laptop Per Child projects. She enjoys writing in the third person.