Ending the association with UTS, but the show must go on.
As some of you may already know from my recent updates on Facebook and Twitter, I have been very sick lately. This is not new, I have been chronically ill since 2012 with a neurological condition, which is why I am doing a PhD and will probably never work again.
Unfortunately, this recent – severe and unexpected – decline means that I can no longer live alone, and must leave Sydney as I have no family here. So, I am heading north to my brother and a much better support network in Townsville. I have withdrawn from my PhD candidature at UTS, and am investigating reviving it at James Cook University.
However, applying for a PhD candidature and a new ethics approval usually takes months, and it is important that the study keep going. Both from a methodological perspective, as the design of the study is about tracking change in vote intent for a number of months, and because it’s just my luck that if I stopped for a while the election might be called. I believe this research is important, but even more important is that voters like you have the opportunity to have your reasons for voting heard.
To minimise disruption to you, the Voter Choice Project will switch to being a purely independent study, separate from any university processes. High privacy protocols to protect your information will be in place, and we have put new privacy and research information policies on the website. No information about participants or any survey responses have been left with UTS.
Obviously that means that we are operating without the purview of any ethics committee or oversight for the moment. That may make some participants uncomfortable, and all will be asked to confirm they wish to continue involvement before completing the next survey.
I am taking this opportunity to make some other changes that the study really needs.
Fixing issues and making things simpler
- I am dispensing with the problematic Qualtrics system and moving to SurveyMonkey – the look and logic is a little different, but hopefully we will have less issues with people getting multiple emails or no emails, and other technical problems.
- The logic and questions are being simplified in some areas to make it more user-friendly to complete.
- I am adding a link to the panel survey from the website, so if you didn’t get your email or can’t find it at the moment and you have some free time to complete the survey, you can just go to the website and enter the email address you use for the panel to complete your survey.
- I am re-opening sign-up and not bothering with a control panel – everyone who wants to have their say should be able to (and this reduces my workload a bit).
- I am also giving in to the complaints, and dropping the requirement for participants to be verified on the electoral roll. It is still my preference for people to be verified on the electoral roll as many people don’t know what electorate they are in or get their electorate wrong – but it will no longer be a requirement of participation. This will also speed up getting people into the study as they will automatically be sent a link to the “catch-up” first survey when you sign up. Please note that you will still be required to provide your name, email, postcode, electorate and age.
- I am introducing anonymous short surveys – these will be the interesting and optional questions that are in the panel, so for those who don’t want to commit to the survey every month or want to participate anonymously, you now can. Also, where questions are delivered randomly to panel participants (as will happen in the August survey), you can go to the surveys page and complete the ones you didn’t get in your main panel survey if you wish.
What’s not changing
- The survey will still come out in the middle of the month until the federal election is called, then on Wednesday night/Thursday morning for each week of the formal election campaign.
- A very high level of security and privacy will be maintained around your personal information and survey responses. The data we collect about you will never be sold or given to a third party in a way that could identify you.
- This will continue to be an independent study, not affiliated with, or funded by, any political party or organisation.
I have had a number of people offer to contribute money to help with the costs of the study (particularly given this change means losing my scholarship and having to pay for everything myself), and I appreciate that offer of support, but I am not comfortable with it. All it would take is one politician to drop some money in a PayPal donation account and someone could accuse me of working for them, and I don’t see any way around that problem.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been supportive through this recent tough time, particularly my amazing supervisor Bligh Grant, who I am hoping will continue to be involved should the PhD be successfully revived at JCU. Look out for his new book The Rise of Right-Populism: Pauline Hanson and Australian Politics to be published by Springer Nature soon (guest appearance from me in chapter 6).
If you have any questions please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Raphaella Kathryn Crosby