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Ethical research in the era of Digital Studies : the French point of view

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the cultural influence of research approaches and paradigms in the context of the ethics of research. Results of a survey conducted among French social scientists about their consideration of ethical issues into the research process.

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Ethical research in the era of Digital Studies : the French point of view

  1. 1. Ethical research in the era of Digital Studies : the French point of view Document shareable under copyleft - GFDL Jean-Claude DOMENGET Maître de conférences HDR en SIC Elliadd, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté co-VP commission recherche SFSIC Carsten WILHELM Maître de conférences en SIC Cresat, Université de Haute-Alsace VP commission Relations Internationales SFSIC 1
  2. 2. Context • mediatisation/datafication of research - pervasive and digital contexts of research • debate about digital humanities • accountability paradigm • debate about ethical standards in media • debate about ethical standards in research, IRBs etc. • Cross-cultural issues 2
  3. 3. The ethics of research - an old question renewed • transparent position of the researcher, participant observation in online discussion groups (Capurro et Pingel, 2002 ; Eysenbach et Till, 2001; Waskul et Douglass, 1996) • questioning close to anthropological observation (Cefaï, 2009) • international work taking into account cultural factors - (CATAC, Ess et.al 2002, 2017, Hongladarom, 2007) 3
  4. 4. Origins of the PERL project ● development of so called digital methods (Théviot, 2013 ; Jouët et Le Caroff, 2016, Sévero, 2016) ● participation in the AOIR ethics committee (3rd version of the guidelines after 2002 and 2012) ● absence of comparable work in the ICM community in France 4
  5. 5. Method ● survey distributed within the ICS community, disseminated to SFSIC members ● 15 in-depth individual interviews (45-90 min.) transcribed and in the process of fine analysis 5
  6. 6. Questionnaire ● dissemination via a SFSIC newsletter, « flash infos » ● about 700 mails opened ● 119 returns 6
  7. 7. Respondents’ profile • Female 52,1%, Male 47,9% • 78% from the discipline (SIC) 7
  8. 8. • Research activities abroad: 28.6% • Publication in a foreign language: 53.8% (overwhelming majority in English) • Thesis supervision: 30.3% • 78.2 from France (then Canada 6% / Belgium 4% and other francophone countries) Respondents’ profile - 2 8
  9. 9. Thematic Analysis • 63,9 % have already dealt with sensitive data • 84% have already had questions about ethics in a research project • 77,4% think that data security is the principal issue • 99,2% think that the autonomy of the researcher is of importance • 45,4% think that the principle of free and informed consent is sufficient to respect an ethical research approach • 22,7% don’t pronounce themselves on this issue !! • 84% support open and accessible research 9
  10. 10. Interviews • 15 in-depth semi-open interviews following the questionnaire • variety of respondents' fields of research (Organizational communication, Multimedia innovation, Visual culture, Digital education …) and level of experience 10
  11. 11. 1. Projects and ethical questioning – Some « sensitive » fields make it more difficult to apply ethical principles (ex : anonymisation) – "We wanted to pass on our questionnaire to the ethics commission of the university. It has been extremely long [...]. It was very complicated. [...] It was blocked for purely administrative matters in fact. We did not know the procedures “ (ITW1) – Ethical rules lead researchers to envision other ways of doing things in compliance with regulations – A fundamental contradiction – "A form of freedom in research and at the same time a formal commitment where there is no freedom“ (ITW12) –Interdisciplinary projects complexify procedures 11 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  12. 12. 2. Ethical principles at risk and scientific integrity – consent of the interviewees – respect of the privacy of the respondents – control of the degree of publicity of the respondents – verification of the results while maintaining the anonymity of the respondents – protection of the fragile populations (ex: minors) / position of researcher) – "To be honest, we will not necessarily seek the consent of people, so obviously the management of these data is to blur the name of the person, to possibly hide their identities, but […] I think we are unethical, in a « grey area »"(ITW7) – The ethical principles as well as reflection on scientific integrity lead to reflections on research practices and the social role of researchers and their credibility – "We could provide systems that would be useful to society because they are useful to us as researchers. …nobody brings up the idea of how to make the results beneficial for the ITWees” (ITW3) – Helping companies to better immerge the consumer… is somehow problematic ». (ITW11) 12 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  13. 13. 3. How we use digital data –The current debate about research data questions interviewees because these principles are part of scientific integrity. –open, accessible, shared data –transparency –Some fundamental risks for all social sciences : –data management –relevance – "You have to make a plan for archiving the data which leaves it possible to restore the context in which the data were created. Because if you analyze data without context […] it does not forgive. For sure we’re going to make mistakes. It is impossible not to"(ITW2). – “The first question to ask : Is the data that I collect relevant to my research ? "(ITW3) 13 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  14. 14. 4. Experiences in ethical validation principles for online research – Ethics commitee –procedure not always clear, –answers not always justified –the necessary ethical questioning remains mainly a personal affair –"It may also come from the fact that I practice my job as a researcher with my values and that this ethics, I perceive it with my own values" (ITW1) 14 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  15. 15. 5. Ethics training –primarily relevant to the training of young researchers –important role for actors such as doctoral schools, URFIST, etc. –difficult to motivate senior researchers –the risk is to face a lack of investment "yes, okay, that's fine, but I’ll tend to it later. I do not have time "(ITW5) 15 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  16. 16. 6. Role of SFSIC –SFSIC legitimate to intervene on these issues –The SFSIC can be a framework or reflection and engage in dialogue with academic bodies (CNU) and relevant institutions (CNIL) –Production of bottom-up shared rules could help improve performance in research –"how can we demonstrate that with shared rules, not necessarily with a committee but with rules that we follow, how this helps to improve performance in research "(ITW3) 16 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  17. 17. 6b Role of SFSIC – From this various of objectives emerge several modalities of action (in order of preference) : – the drafting of an ethical charter, – the setting up of training courses, – the compilation of a collection of case studies – the organization of a workshop – the setting up of position of an advisory council – the drafting of a manual. – "no one reads them, you see [laughs] [...] A charter is good but […], it must be embodied, it is animated "(ITW2) – Priority : put these issues out in the open, allow for debate – "There are still things we do not know how to do well. Take the archiving of research in Social sciences […]. So SFSIC can intervene by promoting these issues « (ITW2) 17 Ethical questioning and role of SFSIC seen by researchers
  18. 18. Practical implications « Research conducted internationally ... makes it even more complex, because the requirements are different from one country to another [...] depending on the country, the implementation of the protocol can last a very long time! » (ITV10) 18 Cultural dimensions of ethical research
  19. 19. • Individualism – Collectivism- How does a Buddhist define privacy ? • Position of the individual vs. collective interest • the respect of the privacy of the users • the autonomy of the researcher • Protection of minors • Framing of concepts - is Habermas’ rationality a western concept ? • Responsibility, integrity • liberty of research • consent • discrimination • Universal vs. Particularist stance or Whose problem is it anyway ? • Controlling bodies & codes • Rôle of possible transgressions & sanctions • Transparency, accountability 19 Cultural dimensions of ethical research
  20. 20. International perspectives ● active participation in AoIR ethics working committee ● In-depth analysis of the evolution of international and national guidelines and charters ● AOIR / SFSIC comparison and strengthening of international links ● Analysis of the cultural impact ● Implementing actions in France, creation of a national group 21/11/2018 20
  21. 21. Merci de votre attention, vos questions? 21 Jean-Claude DOMENGET Maître de conférences HDR en SIC Elliadd, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté co-VP commission recherche SFSIC Contact : jcdomenget@gmail.com Carsten WILHELM Maître de conférences en SIC Cresat, Université de Haute-Alsace VP commission Relations Internationales SFSIC Contact : carsten.wilhelm@uha.fr

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