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Research Ethics: Internet Research

Charles Ess


Internet research ethics (IRE) attempts to clarify and resolve ethical dilemmas encountered by researchers who use the →  Internet as a medium for their research – for example, doing online surveys – and/or focus on the various forms of interactions observable online, such as virtual communities, social networks like MySpace, web pages, instant messaging, and other forms of computer-mediated communication (→  Online Research ; Research Ethics ). IRE is further complicated as researchers may draw on humanities ethical guidelines, which usually treat someone posting material online as an author ( White 2002 ), and/or social science guidelines, which treat posters as subjects who thus require traditional human subjects protections ( Bruckman 2002 ). Because the Internet connects researchers and those they study across national boundaries, additional complications arise as researchers are constrained by diverse national laws, such as those regarding privacy and data privacy protection, and contrasting research ethics, as countries vary considerably with regard to how human subjects are to be treated. IRE has been systematically addressed in Germany with regard to the ethics of online surveys (Arbeitskreis Deutscher Markt- und Sozialforschungsinstitute, at www.adm-ev.de ; →  Survey ); in Norway as part of a larger research ethics framework ( NESH 2003 ); by the American Psychological ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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