So, because my research will put me into direct contact with prisoners, I need to get ethics clearance from my university. What an interesting process it is has been. It has made me describe my project, what its goals are and how I am going to go about gathering my data. I have ended up doing this much earlier in the process than I anticipated because the committee only meets once a month and I wanted to get through all the hoops before my confirmation in July. I managed it and I have been granted approval subject to minor alterations. I consider this to be a great success and I will make the changes and it will be a better project because of them. The real benefit came from going through the process of applying and filling out the Committee's form. I had to really think about what I was trying to do and to focus on really fine detail about how I was going to do it and why. FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS. I now have a well focus, defined and rigorous plan for what I want to do.
People stress about 'getting ethics', but I have found the process fascinating, rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable. I got to go to an Ethics Workshop run by the university. There was an academic there who asked the presenter, who is a lovely man from the University Ethics C'tee, for a "cost/benefit analysis" of getting through the ethics process. Seriously. I kid you not. The lovely presenter said the benefits are you get to keep your job, dickhead. The dickhead was implied. The academic said that he told his research students not to bother 'getting ethics' as it was too slow a process and they never do any harm when they are researching anyway. He actually said that to the ethics guy. Sheesh. Personally, I don't want to do ANYTHING without ethics approval. If anything did go wrong, it would fall directly on my head and my supervisors' heads. Not fair to them and not something I want to be in the thick of, thankyou very much.