January 12, 2016
Dear Educational Researcher,
The importance of scholarly peer reviews in promoting excellence in our field of study is unquestionable—but we know very little about what kinds of content reviews actually contain. This message is an invitation to you to participate in an exploratory research study to find out. My goal is (1) to assemble a collection of reviews of papers or scholarly proposals and (2) to analyse them to find overall themes and concerns, particularly from the perspective of research methods and methodology. This project will support the work of researchers both as creators and receivers of reviews. The results of the study will form part of a scholarly presentation, hopefully at Congress 2016 and a later paper.
I am conducting this study as an independent scholar. I have been an active educational researcher, both inside and outside academia, for many years. Additional information about me (Susan Elgie) is available through LinkedIn. I am contacting you through your membership in CSSE or CSSHE.
You can participate in this study by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org and attaching one or more scholarly reviews (or sets of reviews) in English or French that you have received in the past 10 years. If the reviews were not sent as an attachment, you could copy the review text into a Word file and attach it. If there were several rounds of reviews, please copy them into one document if possible (or just send the first round). There is no need to send any additional text (e.g. from an editor). Please be assured that I will not read the review(s) until after they are removed from the message and downloaded.
The data will be subject to stringent measures to ensure confidentiality. Only I will have access to the data, which will be stored on my personal password-protected computer, usually located in a private home. Reviews received will be further anonymised by stripping them of personal and institutional identification as well as information about the specific area under study. Once the text of the review is incorporated into the project database, the email message will be deleted from my personal computer and email server. I will not use any quotations from reviews. All data will be destroyed in 3 years. I will not use the data for reasons other than those identified above. Unfortunately, I am unable to guarantee confidentiality during the actual transmission of the email. However, the WIFI network I use is password-protected.
Participation in the study is completely voluntary. I do not anticipate any risks to participants. I hope that the results of the study will benefit you and other researchers when writing or receiving scholarly reviews. I assume that you have read and understood the content of this message. Submission of materials to the study email address will constitute your voluntary consent to participate in the research. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com or at 416-531-9548. If you wish to withdraw your data (the reviews) from the study, you may do so prior to anonymisation, as it would be quite difficult subsequently.
This study has been reviewed and approved by the Community Research Ethics Office. If you feel that you have not been treated according to the descriptions in the information you received, or your rights as a participant in research have been violated during the course of this project you may contact the Chair, Community Research Ethics Board, Community Research ethics office, 647-447-9628.
In closing, I would like again to urge you to send the text(s) of one or more scholarly reviews that you have received during the past 10 years to firstname.lastname@example.org. If possible, please send reviews in the next 2 weeks, since deadlines are looming.