Groupthink in Australian Universities: A Final Reflection

Completing the BCM212 research project has encouraged me to be a better researcher. I utilised aspects of the lecture content in completing this project. The most significant concept I considered in my research was the idea of being a respectful researcher. Being a respectful researcher involves conducting research “sensitive to individual participants and research contexts” (Tilley 1998). In my research, this applied to the construction and distribution of my online survey. I utilised Harvard University’s ‘Tip Sheet on Question Wording’ to assist me in composing my survey questions and answers and ensuring that it was “respectful”. Harvard’s tip sheet also recommended keeping the survey short. I took this advice on board, keeping my survey to only 8 questions. I composed a mixture of open ended and closed ended questions- 2 open ended questions and 6 closed ended multiple choice questions. This assured that the survey was not time consuming for participants and was consequently more engaging. The 2 open ended questions allowed respondents to provide their own answers and experiences rather than selecting from a list of relevant answers. I closed my survey after 4 weeks. In this time it received 141 responses. Perhaps the length of my survey and open ended questions contributed to its success.

 

In addition to being a respectful researcher, I was required to ensure the integrity of my research. Doing so involved gaining consent from potential respondents to my survey. Duke University’s ‘Guide to Writing Consent Forms and Oral Consent Scripts’ instructs researchers to explain the purpose of their research in their consent forms. I did so in my consent paragraph, stating “the purpose of this survey is to research the emergence of groupthink in Australian universities as part of a research assignment”. I also emphasised the anonymity of the survey to reassure participants that nobody would know the answers they provided if they decided to respond to my survey. Consequently, I could not maintain contact with any participants. When quoting respondents in my report, their answers remained anonymous.

In ensuring the integrity of my research, I also referred to the Lean Research Framework. Lean Research refers to the importance of the human research subject’s experience in research. It seeks to improve the methods of research and the results achieved from qualitative and quantitative research. Hoffecker, Leith and Wilson (2015) present 4 principles of Lean Research: rigor, respect, relevance and right size. I have utilised these principles in my research project to assist me in being an ethical researcher.

 

In reference to rigor, I have ensured that my research process is respectful of participants’ time and the results are usable. A short survey of only 8 questions is quite time-friendly. I have respected my participants by assuring that they provided consent to participate in my research. At the beginning of my survey, I published a paragraph informing potential respondents of the purpose of the survey and how the results would be used. By responding to the survey, they provided their consent. It is also essential that my research and results are relevant: they are of value to stakeholders and are easily accessible (Hoffecker, Leith and Wilson 2015). Finally, my research method was relevant to my objectives. I intended to discover whether groupthink has become prevalent in Australian universities. My survey provided sufficient information to address this topic.

 

All primary research conducted (online survey) was quantitative. I originally planned on conducting both qualitative and quantitative research by orchestrating a focus group and distributing an online survey. However, due to the restricted time frame of this project, I did not have the time to facilitate a focus group. Although I am satisfied with the data I obtained from my online survey, qualitative research would have been more relevant to my chosen topic area. Qualitative research allows topics to be covered in detail and further questions to be asked (Occupy Theory 2014). If I carried out qualitative research, I would understand why respondents selected their answers and be less likely to feel the need to conduct further research.

 

Overall, undertaking this research project has shaped my research skills and ultimately changed the way I research. In all research from now on, I will actively seek to be an ethical researcher by ensuring the integrity of my research and respectful conduct.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Duke University 2017, ‘Guide to Writing Consent Forms and Oral Consent Scripts’, Duke University, available from https://ors.duke.edu/orsmanual/consent-forms-and-scripts.

Harvard University 2007, ‘Tip Sheet on Question Wording’, Harvard University Program on Survey Research, 17th November, viewed 10th April 2017, http://psr.iq.harvard.edu/files/psr/files/PSRQuestionnaireTipSheet_0.pdf?m=1357530492.

Hassan, G 2013, ‘Groupthink principles and fundamentals in organisations’, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, vol. 5, no. 8, pp. 225-240, http://journal-archieves36.webs.com/225-240dec.pdf.

Hoffecker Moreno, E, Leith, K & Wilson, K 2015, ‘The Lean Research Framework’, D-Lab, viewed 10th April 2017, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B36nNXj12OvSMmJhZHRpOHZBMmM/view.

Occupy Theory 2014, ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research’, OccupyTheory, 21st April, viewed 23rd May 2017, available from https://occupytheory.org/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-qualitative-research/.

Susan A Tilley, ‘Conducting Respectful Research: a Critique of Practice’, Canadian Journal of Education, 1998

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