The WAC Clearinghouse

CCCC 2001 in Review: K.20 Furthering the Dialogue: Three Responses to the CCC Guidelines

Libby Allison: Chair
Janis Haswell presented "Ethics in a Postmodern Age: Lapsing into Legalism."
Maureen Houriga presented "Is There an IRB in This Institution?"
Lulu C.H. Sun presented "Presenting and Misrepresenting Students: Constructing an Ethic of Representation in Composition Studies."

This session featured three articulate, well-argued challenges to the recent CCC "Guidelines for the Ethical Treatment of Students and Student Writing in Composition Studies" (CCC 52:3/February 2001, 485-490).

Briefly, the critiques to the published guidelines questioned the ethical basis of the guidelines themselves, the assumption that all institutions have internal review boards (IRBs) available to researchers in composition and rhetoric, and the ways students and their writing are constructed in comp/rhet research, even under the best of circumstances. Thanks to a lively discussion session, "furthering the dialogue" actually happened. Paul Anderson, chair of the CCC Ad Hoc Committee on the Ethical Use of Students and Student Writing in Composition Studies, expressed his appreciation for the constructive criticism of the guidelines and invited more commentary.

The issue of IRBs is particularly vexing for an organization that seeks to standardize research practices. As Anderson pointed out, CCC respects local contexts and local control; however, on some campuses, IRBs are either absent or exclusively concerned with research in the sciences. The guidelines are designed to provide a professional context for research that could inform local practice-and potentially educate IRBs unfamiliar with comp/rhet research. Participants in the audience told stories that both supported and refuted this assumption, which speaks to the need for more conversation among practitioners, especially within their campus contexts.

At the end of the session, Anderson distributed-for review and comment-a brand-new draft of "Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Research in Composition Studies," a document intended to address research that involves persons other than students. [CR]

Go To: CCCC 2002 in Review Home