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Application 6
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Module 6
Module 7

            Conducting the Information Interview

Application 6: Preparing the report

2 people thinking about the ethics of preparing the report

Stage 6 in the information interview is preparing the report.

In the scenarios below, you're asked to make ethical judgments concerning the preparation of your report based on interview and other information you've found in your research. Recall the three basic ethical principles that should guide you in all stages of the interview:

  1. The interviewer/researcher should not purposefully deceive interviewees.
  2. The interviewer/researcher should not intentionally harm interviewees or the organizations or groups interviewees may represent.
  3. The interviewer/researcher should treat all interviewees justly and equitably.

Also recall how these principles are applied to preparing the report in the information interview:

  • Use information gathered in interviews accurately and fairly.
  • Apply critical thinking skills in evaluating, weighing, and sorting through information.
  • Do not distort or misrepresent interview or any other information.
  • Do not use quotes out of context or only select words to support a particular position or personal agenda.

Preparing the Report: Ethical Dilemmas

For each situation, first determine what course of action you would take. Then click on "Circumstances" for additional information. How does this additional information influence your decision? Notice that there are no "answers" for this application. You make the decision based on the ethical principles outlined above and in Module 6, as well as the guidelines for applying those principles to preparing the report for the information interview.

Situation 1

You are working on a diversity training project for the human resources department in your company. The goal of the project is to develop diversity training programs for the company's employees. You conducted interviews with three human resources personnel outside your company who specialize in diversity training. Two of three are in nearly total agreement on all aspects of the training. The third has ideas that are very different from the other two. How do you present these differing ideas in your report? Do you include the information from all the interviews? Or omit the information from Interviewee 3 who didn't agree with the other two?

Situation 2

You are conducting oral histories for your town's centennial. You are trying to represent the diverse mix of people who have lived in the town for many years. Although white residents for the most part paint a cohesive and rosy picture of the town's history, other residents, particularly African Americans and Latina/os, do not share such happy memories. How would you report this information? How would you present the divergent perspectives? Do you only include the "happy memories," or do you include the more somber aspects of the town's history as well?

Situation 3

You are interviewing students, faculty, and administrators about cheating on your campus. You will be presenting your findings in an oral presentation to your Ethics in our Community class. Before each interview, you assured the interviewee that the information revealed would be anonymous and confidential. Interviewees agreed to be audiotaped on the condition that only you would have access to the tapes and all identifying information would be removed from the transcripts. While other faculty members discussed their strict policies against cheating, one faculty member admitted to helping a student cheat on an exam for another class. The faculty member explained that s/he felt the exam was biased and unfair, the student was an advisee, and the student needed to pass the class to graduate. How would you report this information? Or would you report it at all?

Situation 4

You belong to an Ultimate Frisbee team that has decided to aim for the national championships. However, the team members realize that their playing skills fall far short of many of their competitors. The team members are unsure of their best strategy for improving their game. Should they hire a trainer? Attend seminars as a group? Take individual lessons? You offer to conduct research and identify the two best alternatives from which the team can then choose. You interview top Ultimate Frisbee players, seminar leaders, and Frisbee trainers. You taped all the interviews and took some notes. As you get ready to write the report, you want to listen to the tapes to find some good quotes. Unfortunately, your tape player was on the fritz and every tape is blank. You can write up your report based on your notes, but the quotes would provide greater support for your arguments. What should you do?

Situation 5

Your work group is conducting preliminary research on the possibility of starting a day care center for employees' young children. As part of the project, you are interviewing CEOs of other companies who have such centers, as well those who don't. In one interview, a CEO cites a number of statistics associated with company-sponsored day care centers, but does not provide the source of the information. The statistics are impressive in that they fully support the advantages of such centers. How do you report this information?

Although we often think of preparing the report in the information interview as straight-forward, there are important and critical decisions researchers/interviewers must make. Interviewers must engage in a post-interview assessment to determine if: (1) the information fits the interview's purpose; (2) they have enough information; (3) the information is appropriate to the audience; (4) the information is accurate; and (5) the information is factual and can be verified.

In making decisions as you prepare the report, keep in mind the ethical principles outlined above and discussed in Module 6. Simply getting the job done is not enough. As a researcher/interviewer, you are obligated to represent interviewees in a fair and ethical manner, demonstrating respect and a commitment to examine all perspectives on an issue.

Preparing your report leads you to the final stage in the information interview, Module 7, Presenting the Report.

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