Friday, 14 September 2018

Resources to account for bias

Twice each year I get a new lot of students in to undertake their capstone undergraduate research project. Twice each year I have to explain what bias is, and what we need to do to ensure it doesn't derail a research project.

I have always directed students to both of our textbooks, and recently got totally put on the spot by a student who came to me asking where they could find information in one of our two texts. I had a good look, and apologised: the author had not specifically dealt with bias at all! The other author had dealt with bias, and, even better, dealt with bias alongside various research methods.

As an institute, we use Moodle as our information bank/blended learning backbone. My micro-site for the research paper I deliver is generally very well-resourced due to the years I have had to accumulate and filter the information I have discovered. However, following my student's questions about bias, I revisited the resources with fresh eyes, and have reorganised, labelled and clustered information to make materials easier to find.

As I was taking the inventory of resources, I thought that the materials in themselves might make a good blog post for those of us who find it difficult to find good quality materials on bias. The resources I draw on are:
I explain to my students that they need to think about (a) what kind of researcher bias, participant bias, bias in questions, and inherent bias in their method itself there may be; then (b) provide a solution to isolate, minimise or eliminate that bias through their methodology. While sometimes we will simply have to accept bias, we still need to clearly acknowledge it.

I hope these help someone - and, if you have better resources, I would love to hear about them!


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