The Very First Steps for Research

Before reading the remaining sections in this minicourse about the ethical obligations for researchers, it is important to note that the very first step when your research questions have been formulated is to determine whether you need to seek permission before collecting data:

  • Are you using data that have already been gathered by someone else? Get permission to use that data through contacting the source or carefully citing the source if the data were previously published in a book or journal. Do not assume that the data are in the public domain unless that is specifically stated.
  • Are you using or collecting data from people for your research? Get approval (or an exemption) from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Appalachian. You can find out about that on the graduate school's website. Approval or exemption is necessary before any data collection starts.
  • Are you using or collecting data from animals other than people for your research? Get approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at Appalachian. You can find out about that on the graduate school's website. Approval is necessary before any data collection starts.

If you do not have the appropriate permission to use the data or collect the data before you start, you risk disciplinary action and possible suspension. When working on your own research be sure to follow the process. When working with a faculty member, be sure to discuss any data you are collecting with your faculty mentor before proceeding.