Field Journal, 2022 Scholars, Week 3

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  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?
  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Please answer these questions by creating a post of your own! In addition, please plan on responding to another student’s post that you find interesting. Scroll down to the bottom of the entry and hit “Leave a comment”. Leave your reply in the box provided.

Remember: you should post your own responses by Friday. You should respond to another student’s response by Sunday. I look forward to discussing your reflections with you!

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Go to the profile of Sylvi Stein
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I have begun to realize that a lot of the sources I am investigating are news sources with various agendas. Some are art market sources, some are round-the-clock news sources, some are human-interest pieces. All of these authors depict various aspects of the case I am studying, and sometimes, they emphasize different ideas and motivations of the people involved. I realize -- I have realized this before, but it's more startling to encounter this in person -- that there is no such thing as a truly objective viewpoint. In fact, any one source that claims to have all the facts has done something very wrong in their reporting. I find that the best way to collect the least-subjective view on this topic is to read a lot of different sources and to investigate the context in which these sources were produced.

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

My research question has evolved after meeting with my mentor. I want to look at what, exactly, the intersection is between monuments and contemporary art. This is obviously a hugely broad question; the original idea that my faculty mentor suggested was a very ambitious response. He brought up the concept that monuments are best when they are unremarkable and invisible. I agree that this is a controversial idea in a country rocked by the protests against Civil War monuments, but I haven't yet done enough research to determine the relative merits of this idea versus the general consensus that monuments are important visibility-wise. I think it is a very interesting response to consider, and with every new piece of information that I learn about the way the public has reacted to non-traditional monuments in the last couple of years, the more information I get about how my faculty mentor could believe that this thesis could be supported.

Go to the profile of Asher Baron
8 months ago

Wow, your mentor's response is quite the hot take! My immediate thought is that if the best monuments are invisible, we may need to reevaluate what we do and do not define as a monument. I wonder if that's a question for you to tackle in your work, and I'm curious as to how your sources define what constitutes a monument and what you'll do with those definitions. 

Go to the profile of Julia Goralsky
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One significant issue of ethics that is prevalent within the environment of the lab is the tension between the urgency to publish and the necessity to completely explore results that are produced. I think learning to balance these concerns while always prioritizing accuracy in the results I collect and a depth in content will be very important to remember, not only in the research I am completing this summer but in any academic work that I pursue later on throughout my career. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Working in the realm of seemingly objective forms of science, it may be difficult to find different viewpoints or perspectives to use to explore my results. In the place of different viewpoints, I am employing a variety of different protocols and procedures in my project that can be used to corroborate similar results in order to ensure that the research I do produce is not merely supported from a single side/procedure.

Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
8 months ago

Wow, Julia! I understand the tension between publishing and exploring your results. Research can be endless, and sometimes it may be so exciting that it is hard to stop. Ultimately, it is important to stop and take a moment to see where you have gotten. Sharing your work will get more involved in the conversation, and you can discuss some of the directions which you hope to go or were hoping to go. Balance is vital. I'm excited for you!

Hi Julia! I was really interested by your ethical question of urgency vs. thoroughness—it's really such an astute observation, one that seems so easy to pin down and yet is rarely talked about. Especially today, when everything seems like it moves at lightning speed, I definitely understand the kind of pressure that might come with wanting work that should be thorough to be fast as well. I'm reminded of how quickly the vaccines for Covid-19 were okayed for use, and think that might be an interesting case study to that point.

Go to the profile of Charlotte Hoskins
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The history and literature I am exploring through my research has a lot of ethical implications. One such dilemma is carefully curating a list of literature to read and base my study on. As my time period is the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the majority of literature is written by white people for white audiences. Because of this, I have actively included works written by Indigenous Australian authors and Native American authors to aid my exploration of settler colonialism. Another ethical issue I am facing surrounds language. Many texts I am reading use racist and white supremacist language, so I have decide to censor any quotes I use that contain such language throughout my research project. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Both my faculty advisor and my graduate student mentor have allowed me to view alternative ways to tackle my investigation. Based on these, I have reconsidered how I can approach my topic, which is very broad and daunting. Because imperialism covers so many different areas, I have changed my project by considering focussing on a particular aspect of it, namely settler colonialism in Australia and the United States. 

Go to the profile of Neha Mani
8 months ago

I completely agree with your viewpoint on the ethical implications of investigating colonialist literature and the erasure of Indigenous identities. It is also important that we are cognizant of harmful language used in these texts, so I appreciate your diligence in framing these texts appropriately in your project. 

Go to the profile of Noah J Bergam
8 months ago

Hi Charlotte, I think the problem you face with explicating imperialist literature is really interesting. I would imagine that it is quite difficult to quote and analyze racist language in an academic setting, especially since it is such language and its expressed sentiments which might ultimately be of the most interest in your research. It seems like you are approaching it carefully and will ultimately find ways to express your thoughts appropriately.

Go to the profile of Neha Mani
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I think one ethical issue in scientific research is probably the way we respond to data — for example, if there are anomalies in data obtained from a certain protocol that has previously worked, then it can be easy to simply "ignore" anomalous data instead of exploring why that data was not consistent with the rest. Obviously, there are margins of error for every protocol, but this issue becomes problematic once that margin of error has been surpassed and inconsistent data is not investigated thoroughly. I think I'm doing due diligence to explore the reasons my data looks more anomalous in certain experimental runs and therefore I avoid any misrepresentation of my data. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I've considered approaching my research question from different angles and trying new methods to tackle the problem (e.g. screening different methods for each part of my protocol to see how I can best optimize my purification). These viewpoints have enabled me to avoid being caught in a cycle of repetitive experimentation, but rather have fostered more critical thinking.

Go to the profile of Yoni Kurtz
8 months ago

Neha,

In a different sense, I've also had luck changing the way I "conduct experiments," which has forced me to think critically. On my end, it was changing from a data focused project to a historical perspective-based one, but it's interesting how the general concept of changing a method of experimentation to foster more critical thinking is applicable across such different fields. Good luck with the rest of your research!

Go to the profile of Asher Baron
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

As I have researched my first assigned community organization, the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, I have discovered ethical issues regarding how organizations interact with the police. In this year's Maryland legislative session, this organization lobbied for a clarification of the "Good Samaritan" Law, which protects people who report an overdose, as well as the victim of that overdose, from being prosecuted for drug possession. I see an ethical issue in the circumstances surrounding this bill, which unfortunately died in committee. The issue is that the BHRC, and many others under the harm reduction umbrella, claim to be "anti-carceral", but they are lobbying for legislation that encourages cooperation with the police. I absolutely understand this: saving lives must come first, which today means calling 911, but this bill is essentially arguing for a type of police reform, which does not seem to me to be "anti-carceral".  I think that it would be more truly anti-carceral if the organization were working towards finding alternatives to calling 911 when someone witnesses an overdose. I suppose that this is really not realistic, given that the moderate "Good Samaritan" clarification bill died in this year's legislative session, but I still see a disparity in how the organization labels itself and its practices.

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Some of my sources have encouraged me to consider alternative viewpoints. One critique of the BHRC's work is its distribution of glass and pyrex pipes, which several county elected officials feel encourages drug use (Dubose 2021).  This mirrors the rhetoric of critique of needle exchange programs and I know that historically, some Black leaders have called distributing needles in their community a "genocidal" act. I absolutely think this is an exaggeration, but it's forcing me to at least consider the viewpoint of how providing supplies could potentially encourage drug use. If anything, considering this viewpoint has encouraged me to take a more well-rounded stance on harm reduction, which is that drug use is bound to happen whether supplies are distributed or not. This view departs from other models of harm reduction that consider it as more of a "pathway to treatment". 

Go to the profile of Charlotte Hoskins
8 months ago

I find the ethics surrounding Good Samaritan laws really fascinating as well. I completely agree with your take on them though - there is still such a stigma and such a very real and valid fear about calling 911 when someone is overdosing on drugs because that number is unequivocally connected with the police. What you propose about another number to call when someone is overdosing would do a lot of good in reducing the deaths from overdosing each year, but I guess politics doesn't really agree with passing such 'radical' legislation. Maybe this could be something for local governments, rather than state, to pursue instead? 

Go to the profile of Yoni Kurtz
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

In researching, I've realized that because my subject is baseball, many of the writers/researchers that I'm reading have a deep nostalgic association with the subject that they are writing about/researching. While this is sometimes helpful to me, since the researchers are often very thorough in preserving historical documents, it also means that they often have a tendency to whitewash elements of baseball history, or only research things that paint baseball in a positive light. This means that I often have to take a second look at the primary sources that these researchers are looking at to make sure they are portraying the whole picture.

One other ethical issue that I have been grappling with is the involvement of kids in my research. Looking at patterns of youth sports participation is a delicate subject, because it involves looking for data about children's lives that is obviously usually pretty private. In response to this, all of the data sets that I have found ensure that any data is totally anonymous, using multiple steps of anonymity to make sure that no data can be traced bak to specific children or locations.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Just this past week, I was having second thoughts about my research topic. I felt that all the reasons for race-based discrepancies in baseball participation had been thoroughly researched, and that I wasn't going to find any data about youth sports. After expressing these doubts to my mentor, he helped point me in the right direction, and I was able to sharpen my research question more towards how the history of youth baseball in America reflects America's historical racial dynamics. This reconnection has allowed me to continue on with my original topic, but in a new direction where I feel I will actually be contributing new research.

Go to the profile of Sylvi Stein
8 months ago

I think the idea of nostalgia leading to (maybe unintentional, but still incredibly detrimental) whitewashing is so interestingly insidious. It reminds me of people who say "well, this wasn't a problem when I was a kid..." displaying their narrow-mindedness through a guise of nostalgia. (Of course there were systemic issues when you were a kid, but there probably wasn't as much visibility around them.) Again and again, I find myself coming back to the idea that all generalizations are dangerous (a phrase that is oxymoronic, of course - maybe it would be better to say that ALMOST all generalizations are dangerous). I think that it is very important to distrust the objectivity of every source, but to not let that discourage you; the more sources you look at, the more comprehensive picture you can paint of your data.

Go to the profile of Elianna Lee
8 months ago

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The majority of my project thus far has consisted of searching through magazines and advertisements. One ethical concern I have is not allowing my own perception of what the early 2000's were to cloud my own judgement; though some of my own personal insights are important, it is also important to allow other voices to say their piece on their experience in the early 2000's; to respond to this I want to search through online forums and groups that talk about these experiences from a wide range of backgrounds


As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

As I have talked with my graduate mentor and my faculty advisor, they have both enabled me to think of the different ways a "diva" is created, and the influence that they have had on popular culture. This has moved me towards creating a "diva" framework, in order to identify who is considered a diva more accurately.

Go to the profile of Fatima Ahmad
8 months ago

I also found your first point about not letting your own perception cloud your judgement while conducting my own investigation. I really like the person I am researching as both an activist and writer, so I need to actively think about analyzing the writing as a piece of writing, making sure to not be biased. However, I think it can also be good coming in with your own views because that's what makes the research interesting- seeing how your own viewpoints shift, alter, or even get strengthened, by what you come to learn through the research you conduct. 

Go to the profile of Denise Taveras
8 months ago

Hi Ellie!!

I feel like the graduate mentors and faculty advisors are really the driving force in some of these projects when it comes to hitting roadblocks in our research or looking at things from a different perspective. I had a similar ethical issue to yours and speaking to my graduate mentor has really helped me approach this issue in a productive way.

Go to the profile of Denise Taveras
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One of the biggest ethical issues I've been struggling with in my research is making sure that I not only honor the victims I am researching but also not bring in too much of my personal feelings and ideas into the work. Obviously, that is very hard, especially because this project is heavily based on critical fabulation, but my goal for this is to also allow the music and experiences of those who have been murdered to speak for themselves. I shouldn't assign meaning and understanding to their lives and experiences. In taking my notes, I have to continually check myself. I can include my thoughts and emotions in my notes but they shouldn't be the focus. The lives of people like Aiyana Stanley-Jones and her family, Helen Jones, and Sheikh Mustafa Davis should be what I focus on. Not my own feelings.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

There are only so many viewpoints I can interact with in my research without forcing myself into a really bad place emotionally. I am trying my best to center the viewpoints of the victims and their families. I often get the viewpoints of the police and the people who agree with the police and their methods. For obvious reasons, I don't really want to interact with these viewpoints but my search for information has been overwhelmingly from the perspective of the police and their supporters. These perspectives haven't been very helpful as they aren't relevant to what I am trying to accomplish in this project. It has been a very difficult process and find what I need and maintain a level head. Even so, my goal of centering the perspectives of the victims and families has been a great way to ground myself and reestablish what perspectives I care about and whose viewpoints need to be amplified in my work.

Go to the profile of Fatima Ahmad
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The ethical issues I am grappling with in my research mainly concern the breadth of knowledge out there on the Partition and my limited time. I am having to question the "analysis" and "conclusions" that I come to after doing readings since I need to be certain that I am not mis-reading or construing what the academic paper is actually saying. My focus is on the literature of Manto specifically, however, in order to contextualize and analyze these stories, I need to have a good historical understanding of the Partition first. Since this is technically our second week doing research, I have had to shift some of my goals and schedules to accommodate for this additional reading since it is so important to my project as a whole. Furthermore, although I do understand that the purpose of research is to discover something new, give a unique take, uncover something that has been missed, it feels wrong (as in I feel I do not hold the authority to state some of the things I write). However, after speaking to my graduate mentor, this is simply the world of research and a feeling that remains, but one which should not hold you back!

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I actually began to realize that my initial research question may have been too vague- after all, I'm looking at a body of literature and seeing what I can extract from it regarding the Partition as a whole. The lack of specificity resulted in me feeling that my research was all over the place and that I was holding on to threads that always cut short. I needed a focus point, and I guess this "general" research has allowed me to begin thinking of a few ideas. One detail that I have started to explore more in depth includes the representation of women. Manto gives a lot of agency to women in his stories and I find this intriguing, considering the cultural and societal norms of a newly formed Pakistan in 1947. This take was inspired by a journal article I read which compared the role of women in the literature of three short-story writers at the time, one of them being Manto. 

Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
8 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Fatima! What your research mentor said seems really helpful! Research is unlike our typical academic training, but it is really amazing to take this new perspective! I think it will come more naturally with a bit of letting go of the traditional course atmosphere. I'm really excited to see where your new depth into the representation of women takes you. So much to explore!

Go to the profile of Kelly Warner
8 months ago

Hey Fatima! I completely understand what you are talking about in terms of feelings that your research question is too vague. In a previous research project, I also struggled with that. But it sounds like you found a focus point through exploring the representation of women. I also find the representation of women a really interesting topic and look forward to hearing more about your research in the future!

Go to the profile of Aryan Ghotra
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One of the ethical issues in my project is balancing the need to gain statistically significant results and the importance of preventing any implicit biases. Oftentimes, quantification methods can exclude certain populations or fail to include important information that could change your results. To mitigate this problem, I try to read the literature for ways researchers have quantified images in the past and build upon those methods as they have been accepted to be correct.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Yes; for instance, initially I believed a certain protein downregulates a certain pathway. However, after reading different papers explaining the interactions of lipids and proteins, I realize that this protein could be playing some type of transient role or upregulating another completely different pathway. This has helped synthesize a plan for the upcoming weeks.

Go to the profile of Dave Banerjee
8 months ago

I agree that quantification methods can be heavily biased. Oftentimes, people back up claims using quantification analysis, but these analyses can be inaccurate. Just because something is quantitative doesn't mean it's true. 

Go to the profile of Jonathan Truong
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue I’m facing within my domain of literary research is identifying, cataloguing, and citing scholarly criticism. Because my personal experience in narrative theory is limited, I cannot present even the most general principles without proper attribution—especially because many of these theoretical principles are in contention with one another. While this is, of course, standard practice in all research, it’s become more difficult as I continue to discover subtle distinctions between theorists. In order for my research and analysis to maintain integrity, I need to reach a rigorous understanding of the relationship between these scholarly perspectives so as to properly cite them. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

At present, my research is operating within the domain of narratology, a field which is in itself interdisciplinary. Because of this, even the theoretical framework for my research can be looked at from various perspectives—literary studies and hermeneutics, cognitive studies, media and communication studies, etc. Over the past week, I’ve found myself exploring these different branches broadly and extensively. As I discussed with my graduate student mentor, the challenge has consequently become finding a balance between limiting myself to one area of study and simultaneously accommodating these alternate viewpoints.

Another (surprising) challenge has been determining which viewpoints are truly in opposition with one another or presented as “alternate.” I realized this week, for example, that I’d been conflating the positions of theorists on time and narrative; although I’d seen the work of Ricoeur as building upon Weinrich, he actually departs from his theories about the relationship between narrative verbs and the time to which they refer.

Go to the profile of Elianna Lee
8 months ago

hi jonathan! i really like your points about theoretical understanding- i think that being aware of how theory interacts with other theory and the real world is incredibly important in research!

Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
8 months ago

One of the biggest issues in the ecotourism sphere is green gentrification, which is when the development or greater use of a green area increases the value of local communities and often displaces them. This process has happened along the High-Line for example. Similarly, ecotourism may not best serve the people who live in the area as well as the environment. I am responding to these issues by educating myself about the current state and history of ecotourism and critically viewing “developments” before assuming that green equals good.

As ecotourism can be controversial, I am considering alternative viewpoints. I am interacting with professors and businesspeople. In both groups, some people feel more positive about ecotourism, even if it may change the environment, caring a lot about the profits and efficiency. Others feel very critical of engaging with new developments and see tourists as less likely to care for the environment on vacation. I want to consider differing viewpoints so that my product presents a nuanced perspective.

Go to the profile of Julia Goralsky
8 months ago

When looking at the big picture situation, I definitely agree with you that it is very easy to get caught up in the assumption that “green equals good.” As a result, I’m excited to see how your project incorporates this diversity of perspective on ecotourism. Are you planning on completing any interview data collection with residents from areas particularly affected by this phenomenon of green gentrification? Also, in terms of your project’s end result, will you place your own opinion on the issue into the conversation or are you more focused on the goal of representing the plethora of perspectives?

Go to the profile of Harrison Gerson
8 months ago

Thanks for your interest, Julia! I am considering doing interviews. I will likely do key informant interviews rather than do interviews for quantitative results since making large-scale predictions from interviews may be out of the scope of my project. I am considering speaking to key informants about green gentrification. We will see where the next weeks bring me.

It is inevitable my research will contain bias. My goal is to highlight sustainable tourism in the city environment. In the case that I write a non-academic piece, I hope to use my perspective to emphasize the need for more sustainable and regenerative tourism. I hope to be critical of different entities in the field.

Go to the profile of Kelly Warner
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

In my research, I've noticed a couple of concerns in terms of the diversity of participants. My research works with predominantly children ages 4-9 and is intended to be generalizable to all children. However, I have noticed that recruitment for participants is localized primarily to Brooklyn and Manhattan. While children from other boroughs in New York or even the rest of the world (since these interviews can be conducted virtually) are able to participate, efforts made on behalf of the study to recruit participants are focused on the Brooklyn Children's Museum and public parks around Columbia campus. This could be an issue considering the demographics and socioeconomic status differences among the NYC boroughs and worldwide.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Since I am working with a preexisting lab, we periodically have researchers from other universities that have similar research come in and present their findings. Just recently, we had a researcher from Hope College present his findings on perceptions and socialization of those that identify as religious v. non-religious. This presentation enabled me to consider the implications of initial moral perceptions of morality and intention of children and how religion potentially plays into those perceptions. However, since I am working with a preexisting project, this has not changed my project. However, it has piqued my interest so I may focus on it more in the future!

Go to the profile of Dave Banerjee
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I have not had to grapple with any ethical issues with my research yet. I have been mostly performing data collection, so the only possible issue that could arise is selection bias, but this doesn't really apply to my field. I could see an ethical issue arising in the future when our results are put into a paper. I feel like it will be tempting to skew the data to make our claims seem more certain than they really are. I think this is a common behavior in academia, and we should try to limit this kind of behavior. Ideas of "Publish or Perish" force researchers to be unnecessarily dishonest in their publications unfortunately.

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I have worked in another nanomaterials lab at the University of North Texas before this research experience. In my previous lab, I used different techniques to generate nanomaterial films. I told my postdoc about the method I used in my old lab, and now we are comparing his method to my method to see which one works better. This will help us be more productive in the future, ensuring that we can produce nanomaterial films in the most efficient manner.

Go to the profile of Peter McMaster
8 months ago

Great post, Dave!!!

Integrity is certainly a major concern in fields that handle data. I've had similar situations where there is potentially a temptation to skew results in my favor, but I have no doubt you'll be honest and objectively search for the truth! Keep up the hard work, you're doing great!

Go to the profile of Peter McMaster
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

The only real ethical issue I've had to handle thus far has been remaining committed to honesty and scientific integrity. It can be challenging to avoid cherry-picking data that agrees with your point-of-view or refrain from glossing over any inconsistencies that might pose complications. Realistically, I haven't had any real trouble with this, but it's important to keep in mind. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Looking at things from a new perspective can be useful; this week I found that there is an alternative data set that may be more fruitful to explore, so a decision must be made about whether to continue mining a familiar source that is unlikely to have a major discovery within it, or to transition to an entirely new set of data that may or may not be useful. 

Go to the profile of Wena Teng
8 months ago

Similarly, there is a tension in humanities research of spotlighting information and theories that reinforce pre-existing notions. Being able to look at several databases and archives is important to exploring the same hypothesis, idea, event, policy, but in different ways.

Go to the profile of Wena Teng
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

      Although most of my family members are from China, as a Chinese American, I can still embody specific practices and beliefs a non-Chinese identifying researcher holds. When doing research and navigating "old Chinese" or legal jargon in Chinese, I find myself reconciling tensions by filling in gaps with previous knowledge or beliefs: one cultivated by years of American pedagogy. In regards to positionality, how much space do I, a Chinese American, possess when researching a place I have only known and experienced from a distance? I have only experienced living in China as a toddler, but have never experienced Chinese schooling or lived there during my formative years. So, when reading about policy in China, I remind myself to be critical of not only the language presented but also the response of the American and Chinese media, and how/why they may differ. I hope to continue encouraging myself, and others, on the importance of speaking and listening to Chinese citizens first before villainizing China: often seen through American media and academia. This notion, of being an analytic listener, also applies to understanding American public dissent.  In the next two weeks, I hope to do this by interviewing groups like the Feminist Five. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

        Both my faculty advisor and graduate student mentor offer insightful resources and alternatives to researching China, reminding me to understand all of the complexities of its government and people. For example, one of Professor Dorthy Ko's research is about foot binding during the Qing Dynasty. Rather than exploring foot binding through the conventional perceptions of the west, she argues that foot binding is a conversation with nuance: it can be seen as a reminder of patriarchy but was also a symbol of class status. My graduate mentor advised me to do this I hope to use the same methodology to unlearn certain conceptions about China from my US education while being critical of it. My graduate student mentor advised me to do this by deviating away from academic papers but to continue exploring newspapers, blogs, and journals as primary sources, but also being wary of state-ran or endorsed media. 

Go to the profile of Jonathan Truong
8 months ago

Hi Wena!

I appreciate your insight on the researcher-researched relationship, especially with respect to diaspora positionality. I'm reminded of the age-long insider/outsider distinction, which—as is the case with your research—is complicated by intersectional categories beyond national identity. Excited to see how you navigate mass-mediated discourse on U.S.-China relations in your research! 

What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I went into my research quite well aware at the ethical question posed by the fact that I am not a part of the indigenous community I was researching. This has really brought to mind the 'anthropologist's problem' time and time again: studying a group of people from the outside may generate a portrayal of them as 'strange,' 'alien,' 'exotic,' or any of these 'outsider' things. The traditional anthropologist writes for the group or culture he belongs to, but the otherizing of cultures in the process of his work tends to treat other groups of people as exhibitions, often fetishistically or drastically misrepresentatively. My primary ethical issue, and one that has been at the center of my research since the beginning, is how to avoid the anthropologist's trap while remaining aware of my status as an outsider. I plan to approach this honestly, focusing on things we have in common (e.g. the government that comes up time and time again in my work is the same government I live under, even though I am not a part of the community) to avoid completely otherizing and yet reading ethnographies, contemporary treaties, and news items to familiarize myself with the differences. A surprisingly interesting guide has been the book on the history of folk music that I've recently been reading for pleasure: the drivers behind folk music's popularization and development often fell for this exotization in the name of 'authenticity' (e.g. the Lomaxes' treatment of Lead Belly, or the grossly romantic attitude of many folklorists toward Appalachia), but some managed to toe the line between outsider and insider, such as Pete Seeger's work with folk and union music worldwide. Even though this is an entirely different discipline, seeing others incursionate into cultures other than theirs and yield work that is important provides interesting food for thought. 

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Well, my research is already about taking an alternative point of view! My research focuses on offering a collective-based alternative to the tragedy of the commons, and actually emerged from the question "Is there an alternative to common land usage that doesn't end in expropriation or privatization?" (which, incidentally, is the opening question to Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons, the central work of theory to my project, which was a welcome coincidence that assured me I was on the right track). Alternative economics is definitely what my investigation is based around, so I suppose that, counterintuitive as it seems, an alternative viewpoint might be to use market economics to define the land interactions that take place in these communities. Who knows—I may not be interested in that, and it might actually be harmful to the "rethinking" component of my project, but I might glean something from it!

Go to the profile of Ashwin Marathe
8 months ago

Hey, Ale! I really liked your explanation of doing research from an outsider's perspective. It is definitely challenging to strike a balance between being authentic/presenting the group's characteristics, while maintaining some form of distance away because we don't belong to that community. I have thought of this problem as well during my research and it has definitely been a challenge. I don't want to feel like I am intruding on their life but at the same time, I do want to learn about their experiences. Finding a way to do both will be interesting. 

Go to the profile of Andreas
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue that I am confronting in my research is the potential applications of my research this summer to indigenous intellectual property rights, bioprospecting as an imperialist enterprise, and the mediation of pharmacognostic discoveries in international law and by multinational corporations. I am increasingly interested in how research into how information about medicinal plants and their use is graphically encoded into a writing system might be incorporated into contemporary legal discussions surrounding drug discorvery and intellectual property. 

As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Since I don't think I've decided on any sort of dominant viewpoint in my research so far, I have from the start continuously assesed a range of viewpoints. This is particularly relevant in relation to certain fields related to my research where there is considerable scholarly disagreement, such as the use and classification of character adaptations in creating a vernacular Vietnamese script. Starting to compose a literature review on the range of exisiting scholarly opinions in the field has helped me to map out more clearly where points of tension arise, and even more importantly, to identify the reason why that diagreement has not yet been resolved. Is it due to a paucity of available evidence, lack of continued academic interest in the subject, different definitions of key terms, irreconcilable differences surrounding primacy source interpretation, etc.? Identifying both the cause of a scholarly disagreement and potential roadblocks to its resolution has proved to be an effective strategy in my research. 

Go to the profile of Akshay Manglik
8 months ago

It's interesting to see how intellectual property rights can be a double-edged sword in this case - providing the legal scaffolding for both protecting indigenous cultural uses of medicine and the appropriation of such uses by corporations. Excited to see how your research evolves!

Go to the profile of Akshay Manglik
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One ethical issue that I've grappled with is thinking about privacy in handling and utilizing data. Lots of information is provided by subjects about themselves for the purpose of the study (especially making sure they are MRI-eligible) so it is important to ensure that data is safely handled. Additionally, when utilizing data for analyses it's important to conduct analyses that cannot be traced back to the subject (e.g., using anonymized data or using averaged brain MRI visualizations).

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

At this point there isn't a set viewpoint or method that I'm approaching the topic with; rather, I'm conducting exploratory data analysis to understand the relationship of different datasets (memory representations at the moment of encoding vs the moment of recall) with each other to figure out how to proceed next and what conclusions I can draw. 

Go to the profile of Ashwin Marathe
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

Since I will be conducting interviews, I am having to learn about the ethical considerations of how my transcripts will be made available. For example, if the narrator does not want a certain part of the transcript to be made available, I have to make sure to edit that part out. I also am having to make the release forms for the pre-interview since I will be interviewing human subjects. I am learning a lot along the way since this process is new to me. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I am focusing on individuals who were negatively impacted by the farm laws but I have considered interviewing those who positively benefitted from them. While I was researching, I came across some apple farmers who were for the farm laws because they benefitted economically from them. I also came across artiyas, which are commission agents, that would make more money if the new laws were implemented. These viewpoints are important to the context of the farm bills, so I am thinking of definitely including them. Since an oral history is about including multiple viewpoints, this could provide a unique perspective to the other interviews in the collection. 

Go to the profile of Noah J Bergam
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I think there are a couple of ways to think about this question. My project is in some sense focused on a huge ethical issue inherent to the judicial branch of the federal government: specifically, the question of whether or not the Supreme Court (ought to) act as a counter-majoritarian institution. As many of us are aware, this question is particularly relevant in the context of the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision draft, which may end of overturning Roe v. Wade. Of course, I think this question is posed in a different sense, prompting me to consider the ethical issues of conducting my research. Since I am working with mostly publicly available data, I think the answer is no––although I have recently started thinking about whether there is something potentially harmful about trying to spin narratives from data in order to make it look like results. I think that is a risk we run quite often in the quantitative social sciences, and it takes careful, rigorous methodology and honest exposition to mitigate. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

Yes. I've received very different perspectives from my faculty mentor (a CS professor), my graduate student mentor (who studies political science), and a professor (of economics) to whom I was recently referred. I think this diversity of perspectives is a useful thing at this early stage in the project, although it makes life kind of difficult. I don't want to get into the weeds here, but I think my mentor and I have agreed that there is a compelling computer science problem (namely, pre-training of legal AI) that I can address in this project. However, the social sciences voices seem to suggest a more granular look at the written opinion data. For instance, one interesting idea was to look specifically at 5-4 decisions (since they have a certain controlled essence) and analyze the sentiment expressed in the written opinions over time; another was to look at the exposition of the Warren Court and compare that to other periods in SCOTUS history.

Go to the profile of Peyton Barsel
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

I have begun to realize that this work can be incredibly triggering to the people it involves. Many legislators are directly impacted by the laws they help to pass or kill and I can only imagine how taxing that must be for them. In doing this work, I will admit that the content is heavy. Ethically, I think it's important to give content warnings and disclaimers beforehand in order to reduce harm in the most meaningful way possible. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I have considered writing a paper rather than the original goal of making my project more outward-facing because I feel as if there is so much ground to cover. I think a paper may be a more meaningful way of making that happen because there is more room to expand on ideas. 

Go to the profile of Rosie Zhou
8 months ago

Hi Peyton, I have similar thoughts of writing a paper instead of doing something else for the final product. A paper could definitely be an effective way to convey our research, especially using Hayley's guidance about paper writing that we learned yesterday :) 

Go to the profile of Rosie Zhou
8 months ago
  • What are some of the ethical issues that you are grappling with in your research? What are some of the ways in which you are responding to these questions?

One main ethical issue I'm grappling with is having my focus be on environmental justice, but not actually having ever experienced environmental injustice. There is a tricky balance to find between advocating for something you're passionate about, like environmental justice, and speaking for a community you're not a part of. Because I've always been a huge nature lover, I feel that everyone should have access to the beauty of the natural environment, and that no community should suffer disproportionately from pollution and the impacts of climate change. As I've learned about instances like Hurricane Katrina and the Flint Water Crisis, and how people in power deliberately ignored these crises and failed to inform, protect, and help the communities of color/low income communities that suffered the most, I've felt a sense of obligation to learn more about environmental justice and incorporate it into my future work surrounding environmental policy and law. I recognize that I'm privileged to have not experienced environmental racism, but I think there is a lot of work to be done in making sure that environmental justice policies are actually implemented effectively, leading to resources and funding actually reaching the communities they seek to reach. That's what my research seeks to get at and how I'm grappling with the ethical question. 

  • As you continue your research, have you considered alternative viewpoints in your investigation? If so, how have these alternative viewpoints enriched or changed your project?

I have had to consider alternative viewpoints, because I've been looking into various policies and initiatives, such as Biden's new Justice40 initiative, and new initiatives like this always face opposition. It is important to recognize why there is opposition, and consider these opposing views when creating policies. Of course, there will always be resistance to progressive policies, and it's important to know how to respond to this resistance from the other side. More meaningfully, it's important to consider critiques about a certain policy and address those critiques by trying to make the policy better. For example, people have pointed out that the Justice40 initiative lacks clear direction and guidance on how funding will be made accessible directly to community partners and local jurisdictions. It is then necessary to work towards addressing this problem and making the initiative more effective. Alternative viewpoints are enriching towards creating more effective and comprehensive policies.