A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley


Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Informed Consent | Behavior of a Field Researcher

The ethics of field research are more complicated than library or Internet research. If your primary modes of data collection are observing, interacting, interpreting, and talking to people, you must carefully consider your actions. It is unethical to see people as subjects of research to further only your own interests. If you are conducting research on a college campus with hopes of making your work public, you must review your school's Institutional Review Board (IRB) guidelines.

If you intend to study individuals or groups of people, you must consider the effects the research might have on any of the participants:

  1. Do not put yourself in any danger: It is not a good idea for you to try to live in contact with criminals or lie about your identity.
  2. Be honest with the participants you intend to interview or study. How will the participants in your study feel about your research? Should you protect their identities? Is it possible to protect their identities? Do you think they would be upset if the study became public?
  3. Should you let participants in your study read and/or respond to your study?

These ethical questions are complicated and must be answered individually according to your particular situation. Before you begin researching anyone in any way, you must first consider the ethical aspects of your actions.

Sample Informed Consent Language

The following language could be used when creating an informed consent document:


Subject: Consent to Publish

I was informed that _____________________ is conducting a research study. This interview will be used to (state purpose of research).

I give my permission to participate in this research study. The researcher will not disclose my identity.

Choose one of the following:

Yes / No        In reports, I understand that the researcher will use a pseudonym to credit any of my work.
Yes / No        In reports, I understand that the researcher may refer to me by name.

I understand that I am not entitled to any royalty or any other compensation.

I further understand that I am free to withdraw my consent and to discontinue participation at any time.


(Signature) (Date)

Informed Consent Resources

Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham


Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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