Participation of University Students in Research

The National Statement is clear that special care should be taken in research contexts where a dependent relationship between researcher and subject exist. The common situation where a university staff member seeks to recruit university students into a research project is clearly a context where unequal power relationships can exist.

Guiding Principles

Principles relating to students as research participants

  • No student should be coerced into participation as subjects in any research activity. Such coercion may take the form of:
    1. an allocation of "marks" for participation;
    2. giving an indication of "special consideration" for participation
    3. a suggestion of disadvantage associated with non participation;
    4. issuing an invitation to participate without a clear consent procedure that leads to fully informed consent;
    5. distributing instruments in lectures and tutorials in such a way as to make non-participation a difficult option to exercise.
  • Wherever possible an academic will use a third party to seek student participation in their research. This third party should not be an academic currently teaching that student cohort.
  • The greater the level of personal revelation sought from student participants the greater the preference for complete anonymity in the data collection process.

Principles related to student activity in the research process

  • Students should not be exploited through subject requirements that result in their use as unpaid research assistants.
  • An academic shall not allow their own raw data to be processed by students as an assessable or required task if there is an intention to publish the resultant analysis.
  • An academic must not claim sole ownership of data that has been collected or co-collected by students as part of an assessable or required activity. All student involvement in the conduct of such research will be fully acknowledged in all reports and published works arising from the research.