Importance of Ethical Research & Data Management in Education

What is the true importance of research?  Let me rephrase that.  What is the true importance of “educational” research?  Well, it seems as though the answers to this question can vary from one person to another.  Some may believe that there is little to no importance in gathering such information and it is a waste of time and money.  On the other hand, others may believe that based on such research, better decisions can be made in the future when teaching and guiding the younger generation into their careers.

Big data systems, such as the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS), houses and utilizes a mass amount of this essential information, but why and how is it chosen and used wisely in the success of education?  One may wonder what information is deemed important enough to keep and what is simply disregarded.

According to the website:

These systems are intended to enhance the ability of States to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze and use education data, including individual student records, to

  • improve student learning
  • facilitate research to increase student achievement
  • close achievement gaps

In addition, the value of such information in today’s society is found when it can help individuals in deciding which colleges or universities to which they should apply or even choose a specific career to pursue.

Now, that we’ve covered what educational research through these big data systems can do, how can one remain ethical when gathering and distributing such information?


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The Resources for Research Ethics Education takes a stance on this issue and its main mission is “to promote best practices and evidence-based education in research ethics (responsible conduct of research, RCR).”  In addition, according to the RREE, the following criteria should be followed when dealing with such data management:

  • Data provide the factual basis for scientific work
    The integrity of research depends on integrity in all aspects of data management, including the collection, use, and sharing of data.
  • Integrity of the data is a shared responsibility
    All researchers have an interest in, and responsibility for, protecting the integrity of the research record.
  • Quality of data collection depends on thoughtful planning
    Adequate preparation for data collection helps to ensure that resources are not wasted and that significant results can be obtained.
  • Selection and analysis of data should be specified
    If the research is to be presented in a useful and significant way, critical decisions about selection and analysis must be made before the research commences, when possible.
  • Data should be shared
    An open data policy reflects positively on those who share and benefits science by increasing the likelihood for new insights, collaboration, and reciprocal sharing.

Each of these is being followed by VLDS to make sure to take all precautions in the protection of  identities and personal information of each student within the database including using double de-identification security.  Now, with all of this in mind, what is your stance of ethical educational research?  Do you feel as though it as beneficial as I do? – BLW


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