For any project that involves human subjects it is important to understand the ethical obligations the people carrying out the project have. Since this project is based around communication, there will be many interactions with different members of the community. This means that the treatment of these participants will play a large role in the project. Whenever using human subjects in any type of project, it is important to treat all subjects as autonomous agents. This means that all participants should be treated with the respect that they are able to make their own decisions about participating and should be aware of the purpose of the project along with how their involvement will be represented.

The interactions in this project will include both talking and working with different people. From talking to these members of the community, it will be important to make sure that the people participating understand what the information is being used for, how it will be represented, where it will be represented, who they can contact if they change their mind about participating and the fact that they can stop participating at any point during their involvement. It will also be important for our project group to be aware of how information gathered can affect the participants if it is represented in the wrong way.

Ethics will also play a large role in this project through the use of photography. It will be important for all participants, both taking pictures and in the pictures or video, to know how the media is intended to be used. It will also be required that all participants give written and/or oral consent for the pictures to be published where people outside of the project will have access to them.

In preparation for these obligations, our team has prepared a written consent form that will be available for all participants. As there will be a language barrier with some of the people who we will be working with, it will be important for this information to be properly translated to ensure that they are providing an informed consent. One way that we can go about doing this is to ask the co-researchers to help us both with speaking to different people in the community and properly translating the written consent form. The involvement of co-researchers, however, will bring another aspect into our ethical obligation to the participants of our project. In order for confidentiality to be kept it will be important for the co-researchers to uphold the same respect for community members’ anonymity and willingness to participate.

This preparation also includes submitting an IRB (Institutional Review Board) application to be reviewed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. With this application, we have attached sample questions that will be used while interviewing the community along with our intentions for these interactions. This process will ensure that we are not asking anything inappropriate for the project and that we are aware of how to properly handle confidentiality with the participants.

For this project, it will also be important to be prepared for how to handle information in an informal setting.  While we will have a formal consent form for formal interviews, we will also be having casual conversations with different people in the community.  During these informal conversations it will be just as important for our team and the co-researchers to uphold the same respect as if we were doing a formal interview.


Interview Planning