ETHICS POLICY

Much of the "primary material" for this project derives from audio and visual recordings of reading groups and audiences, and transcripts of these recordings. Our research practice has been informed by the British Sociological Association statement of ethical practice (http://www.britsoc.co.uk/equality/63.htm). In particular we understand the pressures of the"gatekeeper" role that our Project Partners play (Para 25). Our Steering Committee will remain alert to the interests of the research participants and of the "gatekeepers", and following the advice of the BSA we will "adhere to the principle of obtaining informed consent directly from the research participants to whom access is required". In order to protect the identities of those involved we will require all participants to sign consent forms. Again, following Para 25 we have discussed with our Project Partners and agreed that "it may be necessary for the obtaining of consent to be regarded, not as a once-and-for-all prior event, but as a process, subject to renegotiation over time". Prior to publication, research participants will be offered feedback on findings, in order to identify potential problems and reach agreement. Research participants will also be free to consult full copies of any transcripts of interviews in order to make corrections, withdraw statements, provide additional information or to add glosses on interpretations (Para 23). Published references to the recorded material will be anonymous. Access to the recordings will be restricted and the recordings and transcriptions themselves will remain confidential. We may have to destroy the archive after an agreed period of time. The online "reception area" raises further ethical issues and the investigators will follow the BSA recommendation that "Members who carry out research online should ensure that they are familiar with ongoing debates on the ethics of Internet research, and might wish to consider erring on the side of caution in making judgements affecting the well-being of online research participants" (Para 41). Additionally, we will follow codes of practice in line with the Data Protection Act, Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act and Human Rights Act documented at the following sites:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/80029--a.htm#1 http://www.ico.gov.uk/eventual.aspx?id=34
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020041.htm
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/19980042.htm


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