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Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age

New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts

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Edited By Michael Zimmer and Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda

The continuous evolution of internet and related social media technologies and platforms have opened up vast new means for communication, socialization, expression, and collaboration. They also have provided new resources for researchers seeking to explore, observe, and measure human opinions, activities, and interactions. However, those using the internet and social media for research – and those tasked with facilitating and monitoring ethical research such as ethical review boards – are confronted with a continuously expanding set of ethical dilemmas. Internet Research Ethics for the Social Age: New Challenges, Cases, and Contexts directly engages with these discussions and debates, and stimulates new ways to think about – and work towards resolving – the novel ethical dilemmas we face as internet and social media-based research continues to evolve. The chapters in this book – from an esteemed collection of global scholars and researchers – offer extensive reflection about current internet research ethics and suggest some important reframings of well-known concepts such as justice, privacy, consent, and research validity, as well as providing concrete case studies and emerging research contexts to learn from.

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Internet Research Ethics: Twenty Years Later (Elizabeth Buchanan)

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Internet Research Ethics

Twenty Years Later

ELIZABETH BUCHANAN



INTRODUCTION

It has been twenty years since the seminal issue of The Information Society which opened the scholarly discourse on internet research ethics in an expansive way. At that time, Rob Kling commented that “research ethics are normally a specialty topic with relatively little public interest” (1996, p. 103). Little did anyone suspect that in less than twenty years, a technological revolution would occur and such platforms and tools as American Online, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and countless others would make research ethics a topic of near daily conversation. Research ethics would grow beyond a narrow consideration for predominately medical/biomedical researchers to directly include social-behavioral-educational and computational researchers; these researchers would define and engage with “research subjects” or “research participants” in novel ways. Indeed, the notion of a “research participant” itself has been redefined. And, the fields or locales of research settings moved beyond traditional field sites, physical spaces, or labs, to online spaces, virtual worlds, chat rooms, profiles, and massive open courses. In twenty years, the internet has contributed to a new paradigm in the research enterprise, contesting long-standing tenets and principles of research methods and praxis; but, has internet research changed the foundations from which considerations of traditional research ethics principles begin? Researchers have reflected and debated these questions many times and in many different ways: Is there something unique about internet research and...

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