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Possible Future

TII collects a massive database of student work and retains the rights for its use. That part is real. In contrast, consider the difficulties that Andrea Lunsford and Karen Lunsford faced in reconstructing the classic Connors and Lunsford (1988) "Ma and Pa Kettle Do Research" twenty years later. This time, simply asking colleagues to pass on essays generated far fewer results. The main change was that IRB approval was needed at each university rather than just the researchers' home universities. In addition, approval meant a full review, not expedited, a requirement that when multiplied by many universities, meant massive delays and greatly discouraged teacher participation. Lunsford and Lunsford thought this change so significant for future longitudinal writing research that they devoted a section of the article to it, concluding that "Whether we can coordinate efforts in ways that allow us to meet IRB requirements seems a huge question arising from this study" (p. 802).

Now compare. TII has the massive corpus that composition researchers like Lunsford need and IRBs have no jurisdiction outside academic research. The student release states that they relinquish rights and that TII has the right, if they should choose, to resell the student work individually or in bulk. In other words, our universities have enabled a for-profit corporation to assemble a huge corpus of student work and they have paid them to do it. At the same time, when TII offers that corpus for sale, corporate market researchers would have the advantage since they are more likely to have the funds to purchase usage rights than academic researchers in composition studies. In this possible future, universities who pay for TII's services pay them to take student work without compensation, work that researchers may have to pay TII for later in order to do research.