Ethical Dilemmas in Online Research

Ethical Dilemmas in Online Research

R. Melville (The University of Queensland, Australia)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch111
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Abstract

Online research raises unique ethical concerns (Ess & AoIR, 2002), including the treatment and recruitment of participants, gaining consent, accessing electronic forms of data, privacy, and responsibility to the participants of online mediums (e.g., discussion lists and groups). Until the mid-1990s, very little attention was paid to ethical issues in online research for the following reasons: • This communication medium was a very recent phenomenon (Ess & AoIR, 2002; Mann & Steward, 2000) • Internet research posed different ethical challenges for researchers in comparison to conventional face-to-face settings • Existing ethical regulations and ethics review boards did not cover the new ethical issues raised by Internet research • It was too difficult to develop a uniform code of ethical conduct for Internet research given the diverse disciplines, countries, and cultural groups using the Internet (Ess & AoIR, 2002) • The complexity of Internet technology itself, which made adapting conventional ethical practices and processes problematic (Anders cited in Mann & Stewart, 2000; Mann & Stewart, 2000; Thomas, 1996; Whittaker, 2002)

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