16 July 2014

Within In A Crowd, Without Losing Your Voice.

Few people who give their personal story also give their personal name. They often write in fear that their experiences of ministry will be read by church communities and jeopardise their parent and/or spouse's job. Stories I'm reading include: "a person at my dad's church" or "this one lady at my husband's church...". The need for this anonymity is completely understandable, very saddening, and quite unique.

I was speaking to someone the other day about the complexities of the clergy household and job and they were quite surprised at the concept of a 'family package': you get the minister, you get the family. This began a half hour discussion trying to find a similar situation in the secular work environment. Long story short, we couldn't find one.
The more I'm reading, the more I'm appreciating how important anonymity is to honesty. To be completely yourself and to give truthful answers to difficult questions you need to be able to know you'll be protected.

Which is why this study is anonymous. Even if I personally know you, I won't know which response is yours. Protected in as many ways as I can use (without compromising the data), I've decided the important elements are the individual experiences, not necessarily the name or details of the person who provides them. There are some details of course I need to ask such as age and gender, but with a minimum of 100 participants required (although generally in a qualitative study 30 is suggested) and a potential population of who can participate of around 30,000 people across Australia, you can be part of a crowd, without your voice being lost.

How is this achieved?
  •  An independent, high security, online survey group called Survey Monkey is being used with links to the survey being provided and no personal details requested to participate in the survey. 
  • Responses to the survey will only be made available to approved researchers and appropriate ethics committee members if necessary. 
  • All responses will be protected using appropriate security measures. 
  • No names, locations or churches in Australia are asked for, and therefore not used, in the published findings. 
  • The survey is Australia wide so anyone within the requirements of participation can be involved. 
  • The survey is centred around the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, and Australian Code For The Responsible Conduct of Research and will be endorsed by a registered Ethics Committee. 
  • If any response examples are used within published findings no names or identifying details will be used to link an individual to a response. 
A wise librarian said to me the other day that Australia is beginning to accept that it's better for organisations to be transparent in their actions and how they care for their businesses and employees. I hope this is something that carries over into church policy and responses to this survey.

~ Rachel


  1. […] of 100 responses to ensure anonymity for participants. For more on anonymity, have a look at this blog […]

  2. […] of 100 responses to ensure anonymity for participants. For more on anonymity, have a look at this blog […]