Thank you for visiting Discourses of a Diagnosis. This site is set up exclusively for a study that I am conducting
regarding female faculty members’ experiences with breast cancer. I am a Social Foundations doctoral student at
Oklahoma State University conducting this dissertation study in partial fulfillment of my degree requirements.
TITLE: Discourses of a Diagnosis: Narratives of Women in Academia
INVESTIGATORS: Sara Mata, M.S., Oklahoma State University; Lucy Bailey, PhD, Oklahoma State University
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences and perceptions of women in academia,
specifically female faculty members in higher education, who have been diagnosed with cancer during the
reappointment, promotion, and tenure processes. The study will examine and critique the discourses of female
faculty members related to dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment while working at the university. These
narratives will be analyzed to describe the impact on balancing roles and responsibilities personally and
professionally. Not only will this study provide an opportunity to express the points of view of the participants,
but also the social implications of gender will also be explored. This study is also intended to increase
administrators’ awareness of female faculty experiences and to promote a more positive environment for faculty
dealing with illness while working in institutions of higher education.
WHAT TO EXPECT: You will be asked to participate in an on-line journaling exercise. Each page of the website,
four total, provides an open-ended topic prompting you to reflect and respond to an on-line response format. Each
prompt will also provide an opportunity to submit a photo or image as a visual expression of this experience. The
first phase of date collection asks you to tell "HerStory." This phase will direct you to discuss your childhood,
up-bringing and background demographics. The prompt will be: Describe, in essence, your story - describe your
upbringing in regards to family dynamics, background demographics and how you came to a profession in
The second phase of data collection will address "Diagnosis, Duration and Dealings." This phase will ask to
discuss how you learned about your diagnosis, what your experiences were throughout the duration of treatment,
and how the experience impacted your personal roles and responsibilities. The prompt will state: Describe your
experience of how cancer entered your life, how the diagnosis might have had an influence on you personally,
and how you maintained balance of the personal side of dealing with cancer .
The third phase of data collection will explore "Professional Practices." During this phase you will be asked to
describe how professional roles and responsibilities at the university facilitated and/or hindered the circumstances
of dealing with cancer. The prompt will state: While dealing with cancer, describe how professional roles and
responsibilities, interactions with colleagues, administration, and/or students played a role within your
The fourth phase of data collection will address "Aspirations of the Profession." This phase will bring insight to
the intersections of dealing with breast cancer and the expectations of the faculty position. The prompt will state:
Describe how experiencing cancer as a faculty member in higher education may have influenced, impacted,
and/or played a role in the reappointment, promotion, or tenure process.
The on-line journal format is designed to allow you to take as much time needed when completing the prompts.
Ideally, the study of all four phases will be completed in an 8 week time period allowing two weeks for each phase.
RISKS OF PARTICIPATION: Risks associated with participation in this research study include potential
psychological or emotional distress. In order to assist with the offset of these risks, contact information for support
groups will be available on the website with links to support such as:
BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATION: Your participation in this study and the information you provide are invaluable
in providing a voice to your experiences that have been silent throughout the literature. If you are interested, we
will send you a copy of the results of the study when it is finished.
YOUR RIGHTS AND CONFIDENTIALITY: I understand that my participation is voluntary, that there is no
penalty for refusal to participate, and that I am free to withdraw my consent and participation in this project at any
time, without penalty.
CONFIDENTIALITY: Due to the sensitivity of the information potentially being discussed, I want to insure the
utmost confidentiality to your participation. You will not need to provide your name during the research study. If
you wish to participate, you will be asked on the home page of the website to choose three letters and a number to
designate your sumissions. This will not be a method of identification, only simply to track your submissions
throughout the study. By submitting this identifier is providing consent to be a part of the study. It is asked of you
to use this identifier when making submissions throughout the process.
The records of this study will be kept private. Any written results will discuss group findings and will not include
information that will identify you. Research records will be stored securely on the website and only researchers and
individuals responsible for research oversight will have access to the records.
CONTACTS : You may contact any of the researchers at the following addresses and phone numbers, should you
desire to discuss your participation in the study and/or request information about the results of the study: Sara
Mata, M.S., Lucy Bailey, Ph.D., 215 Willard Hall, Education Studies, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
74078, (405) 744-9194. If you have questions about your rights as a research volunteer, you may contact Dr. Shelia
Kennison, IRB Chair, 219 Cordell North, Stillwater, OK 74078, 405-744-3377 or
IF YOU CHOOSE TO PARTICIPATE: Please provide a three letter and a number to designate your submissions.
This will serve as a way to track your submissions for each question throughout the study. By submitting your
identifier below you are indicating that you freely and voluntarily and agree to participate in this study and you
also acknowledge that you are at least 18 years of age. It is recommended that you print a copy of this consent
page for your records before you begin the study. Please use your identifier when making submissions throughout
the process of the study.
Thank you so much for your willingness to share your experience and participate in this research study. Please
email me at anytime you have a question or concern at or phone me at 580 352-1975.
Sara Mata, M.S.