Not the soliciting you may be hoping for.
On another forum, something came up that reminded me of something a lecturer asked a class of mine to do for an essay. We were to write an essay on a particular field, and to get our information we were to interview people in that field. We weren’t allowed contact anyone we knew, or anyone we dealt with over the course of our education, so no-one from internships or any guest lecturers we had. I felt very uncomfortable doing this, and put my qualms to my lecturer, saying it may even be a moral objection and he waived that part of the essay for me. So I was wondering what you would think.
Would you have an objection with seeking out random strangers as part of writing your essay? As part of the referencing process you would have to give the details of the people you interviewed. The people you’d have to interview would be from the mid-managerial level to executive level of medium businesses. The essay would be of no use to anyone, it’s not original research that’s going to advance the area of concern. It’s not going to develop a new device or system, or benefit anyone other than yourself. In fact it’s a purely selfish activity. The only benefit, bar to yourself, may be in developing links between your university and the business the person you interviewed is from.
Like I said, I felt very uncomfortable in doing this. Contacting people I knew or met, or the guest lecturers and employers who had already said to me, “Get in touch if there’s anything we can help with” or people who have an interest in my education would be one thing, although I’d still feel uncomfortable doing so. Contacting someone out of the blue, and putting them in a position where they had to refuse me is something entirely different. I don’t think it’s correct to put someone in that position, and I wouldn’t want to infringe on anyones time.
This could all stem from the time I worked in a call centre and (sort-of) was tasked with cold-calling people to get a sale. It’s possible this case is different, but with it being a purely selfish matter I don’t think so. I mean, even my parents had strong objections to trick or treating. They felt it wasn’t polite.
All that being said, if a student ever contacted me and asked for my help, I’d do everything I could to help them (within reason.) I think education is important, and I wouldn’t hold anything against someone for asking, even if I couldn’t help. I just wouldn’t want to solicit people myself. And in certain fields I have no qualms in doing it even if the motives are selfish, like people trying to find a job.
What do you think?