Which ethics apply to Internet research? If the Internet is conceptualised as space, then social science research ethics apply. However, if it is conceptualised as text/art, then the ethics of the humanities are more relevant.
5. Ethical or non-ethical? Internet Research Ethics - Rebecca Ferguson ‘ It's amazing how appealing things like cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry and checking email become when you're supposed to be studying.’ ‘ Back to my father, who I found in such pain that I could not bear the sight of it without weeping.’
Rebecca is a second-year postgraduate in IET. In October 2005, she began work on a PhD focusing on identity and learning in asynchronous online conferences. Her search for data and participants has involved a study of online research ethics.
Principles behind most ethical codes. Autonomy Those with diminished autonomy are entitled to special protection. Autonomy is reflected in the principle of informed consent and in the protection of privacy and confidentiality. Beneficence Maximise benefit for the subject. Minimise possible harm. All research should have some possibility of benefit. Justice Ensure that certain groups do not bear disproportionate risks while others reap the benefits.
Marty Rimm’s ‘Carnegie Mellon Study’ . Secretly captured records of computer users.
Elements appear in this order: Pepys’ text Student text Pepys’ picture Student picture Pepys’ diary: http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=4200 It’s considered ethically fine to quote this very personal section from Pepys’ diary, although it was written in code and manifestly not intended for publication. On the other hand, quoting from this student’s publicly available blog may involve ane Ethics Committee and informed consent.
Human subject research: Guardian blog: building a community of Guardian readers Podcasts: individuals regularly putting point to the world Jacob: Creating a sense of himself as an Internet user Slashdot: Building relationships through responses Nintendogs: Investing time and energy in online creation Avatars and pseudonyms: Need to protect both real identities and pseudonyms. People invest in pseudonyms If we conceptualise the Internet as space, then the conventions of human subject research apply and there is a perceived need to protect identities and obtain informed consent
Textual research: Guardian blog: online extension of printed material Podcasts: copyright issues. Creative input. Jacob: Children’s writing. New way of studying this. Slashdot: Reference article Nintendogs: Gaming software, legitimate subject for study Avatars: Artwork. Collaborative work, each user treating avatar as their own. If we consider the Internet to be text or art, then the ethical conventions of the humanities come into play and it is considered correct to identify all authors
Rights of the human subject primary, those of the researcher as secondary.