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  • 00:09

    SUSANA MUNOZ: My name is Susana Munozand I'm an Assistant Professor of Higher Educationat Colorado State University in Fort Collins.[Susana Munoz, Assistant Professor, Higher Education]For the last decade, I've been lookingat the college experiences of undocumented college studentswith specific interest in campus climate, college persistence,identity development and social activism.

  • 00:29

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: Across my research projects, I use qualitative researchmethods.And I've also used critical race theories and Chicana feminismwithin the research design.In 2015, I published my first book titled Identity, SocialActivism and the Pursuit of Higher Educationthe Journey Stories of Undocumented and Unafraid

  • 00:50

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: Community Activists.It was during that time that I struggledto find some literature around ethical considerationsfor students without legal status in the United States.So today, my intention is to share some of the lessonsand challenges that I've experienced while researchingundocumented college students.

  • 01:10

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: One is embracing your positionality.Two is gaining access to undocumented communities,undocumented students.Three is working through the IRB processaround issues of confidentiality and anonymity.Four is making meaning of working with and for students.

  • 01:32

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: [Your Positionality]So for a positionality, one of the thingsthat I find as a strength is that as qualitative researcherswe really need to have a clear understandingof our own positionalities before we collect data.For me, it's my research is rooted in my own immigration

  • 01:54

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: experiences.So I've made meaning from my immigrant identityand how that intersects with my class, my race, and gender.In addition, I've also come to understand what it meansto have citizenship privilege.This means that I never have to fear deportation,I never have to fear being separated from my family.

  • 02:14

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: The more that researchers understandwhy they're doing this work or what brought them to this workcan produce a powerful product.Many of my students even ask me what brought you to this workor why are you doing this work.And sharing my own immigration story and whatbrought me to why I study what I do really opens a conversation.

  • 02:38

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: It really gains a lot of rapport with my participants.[Gaining Access to Undocumented Students]During my book project, I was specificallylooking at students who self-identifiedas undocumented, unafraid, and whoare also immigration activists.One of the most useful things to me

  • 02:58

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: was social media like Facebook or Twitterthat allowed me to not only advertise my researchbut also connect with student groups and other dreamorganizations that were active in this issue.I also use snowball sampling techniquesin which I ask students to also ask their peers

  • 03:20

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: to see if they would be interested in participatingin my research projects.In recent months, during our campus climate researchthat we've been conducting, some colleges and universitieshave been hesitant about forwarding our researchinvitation emails to their students for fearthat they may be outed.So one of the things that we have shifted

  • 03:40

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: is we've been working more with the community organizationsthat serve undocumented youth and thathas been a really good way, an entryway,into gaining access to our population.[IRB Process]The IRB process has not necessarilybeen smooth sailing.So one of the things that have been consistent

  • 04:02

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: throughout my studies is I use a verbal consent rather thana written consent from all my participants.So when I was collecting data for my identity book project,I was asked to write an op-ed featuringone of my participants, and I used a pseudonymfor one of my participants in that op-ed.What happened then is my participant then came back

  • 04:24

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: to me and asked, I really want to use my real namein this project.And I explained to her that the IRB process,and I explained that the pseudonym was a wayto protect her identity.And she asked and she said, I didn't ask you for protection.

  • 04:45

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: So I went back to my IRB committeeand what we did is we formulated a waiver of an anonymityso our participants had the choiceto waive their anonymity in our research project.For many of these students, using their real nameis a political act.They want to be connected to the story,

  • 05:05

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: and the story is an honor, a story is a gift.So it's really important that you honor the students requestwhen they want to be named in the studies.The specific language that I used in the anonymity waiverare as follows.Waiving your anonymity means you willbe identified by your first name in all published

  • 05:27

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: data, public presentations, or other use of the data.Individuals may be able to decipheryour identity and the state in which you reside in.If individuals know your name and identity,you may be questioned about your involvement in the study.If individuals know your name and identity,you might be questioned about your legal status

  • 05:49

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: or your other identities mentioned in the study.Waiving your anonymity is completely optionaland not required.The other challenge that I was confronted in the IRB processwas the usage of focus groups in my studies.The IRB committee was worried about maintainingconfidentiality within those focus groups.

  • 06:10

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: I brought in some of the literature and workof George Kamberelis who does researcharound how focus groups are a way to create solidarityand a way for individuals to come and heal and providea sense of support for each other.[Making meaning of the process]

  • 06:32

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: How to make meaning and working for and with undocumentedstudents is important.One of the lessons I've learned throughout my research processis that many of the students have participated in researchbefore and really want to know, what are yougoing to do with my story.It's really important for researchersto determine beyond their research,

  • 06:53

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: beyond the publications how will you take your research,how will you take the findings and apply itin a practical sense.Apply it to communities, apply it to college administrators,and apply to school administrators.There has to be a very practical component to the research.Students are very critical of academics in the sense

  • 07:14

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: that they just keep their research in academia.It's our responsibility as researchers to make surethat information is disseminated to communities,so we are able to empower other people to access college.But also empower communities to understandhow systems of higher education operate.[Conclusion]

  • 07:37

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: How you conduct research with undocumented studentsand other minorities or marginalized communitieshas longstanding implications and consequences not onlyfor you but your institution.Be sure that you've gained trust and rapport with the communitythat you've worked with.Remember that your research has real-life consequences

  • 07:58

    SUSANA MUNOZ [continued]: and to use your research to empower others.


Susana Muñoz discusses the processes and difficulties in conducting ethical research with undocumented populations.

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Challenges & Strategies for Researching Undocumented Populations

Susana Muñoz discusses the processes and difficulties in conducting ethical research with undocumented populations.

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