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Exploring online research methods - Incorporating TRI-ORM

Ethics: Further resources

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Open/close headingOnline codes of conduct

Many academic and professional research organisations publish codes of conduct which cover key points of legislation.

Some examples include:

American Psychological Association.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.apa.org/ethics/.

American Political Science Association.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.apsanet.org/section_513.cfm.

Association for Computing Machinery (US).
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.acm.org/constitution/code.html.

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (US).
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.indiana.edu/~appe/.

British Computer Society: Handbook of Ethics for Health Informatics Professionals.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.5911.

British Educational Research Association: Research guidelines.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bera.ac.uk/publications/guidelines/.

British Medical Association.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/Hubethics.

British Psychological Society. Code of Ethics and Conduct (applicable from 31 March 2006 onwards)
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bps.org.uk/the-society/ code-of-conduct/code-of-conduct_home.cfm.

Economic and Social Research Council: Research Ethics Framework (pdf).
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/Framework_for_Research_Ethics_tcm8-4586.pdf.

The RESPECT project. Funded by the European Commission’s Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme to draw up professional and ethical guidelines for the conduct of socio-economic research.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.respectproject.org/main/index.php.

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at Illinois Institute of Technology also has vast collection of codes of ethics, organized by professional category. Many of the categories include examples from places other than the UK and US.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://ethics.iit.edu/codes/index.html.


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Open/close headingEthical guidelines for online research

The British Psychological Society (2007) Conducting Research on the Internet.
supplementary guidance document to the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct, focusing on additional ethical and practice issues inherent in internet mediated research.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bps.org.uk/the-society/ code-of-conduct/code-of-conduct_home.cfm.

BACP (2002) Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Rugby: BACP.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework/

Bruckman, A. (2002a) Ethical Guidelines for Research online.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~asb/ethics/.

Childress, C. and Asamen, J. (1998) The Emerging Relationship of Psychology and the Internet: Proposed Guidelines for Conducting Internet Intervention Research, Ethics and Behavior, 8, 1, 19-35

Ess, C. and AoIR Ethics Working Committee (2002) Ethical decision-making and internet research: recommendations form the AoIR ethics working committee.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf.

National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social sciences and the Humanities (NESH), Norway. Research ethics guidelines for internet research.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.etikkom.no/ Engish/ Publications/ internet03/.

American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research in Cyberspace.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/projects/intres/main.htm.

Suler, J. (2000) Ethics in cyberspace research.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/ethics.html.

Internet research ethics. Papers from a panel presentation organized for the Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiries (CEPE) conference held at Lancaster University, December 14-16, 2001.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.nyu.edu/projects/ nissenbaum/ethics_elgesem.html.

Hill M. L., King, C. B., Eckert-Denver, C., Gibson, E., Pankoff, B. and Rice, T. (2004) The Ethics of Online Research: Issues, Guidelines and Practical Solutions.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://home.oise.utoronto.ca /~scottlab/colin.pdf.


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Open/close headingUseful resources for online research ethics

Research Methods Festival 2008 - Session 35: e-Research Ethics in the Social Sciences
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.ncrm.ac.uk/TandE/RMF2008/index.php?session=35
Powerpoint presentations from the 2008 Festival sessions on online research ethics.

Online Research Methods Ethics Mailing List.
To subscribe email [M] majordomo@cc.gatech.edu and place in the message body 'subscribe online-research-ethics'.

The Association of Internet Researchers -A(o)IR - Ethics Working Group.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.cddc.vt.edu/aoir/ethics/index.html.
Webspace of the AOIR Working Group established to formulate a set of values that all internet researchers should uphold when research involves humans.

The Information Ethics Group, Oxford University Computing Laboratory.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://web.comlab.ox.ac.uk/ oucl/research/ areas/ieg/.
Webspace of a research group focusing on the Philosophy of Information and, in particular, the conceptual foundations of Computer Ethics.

The International Center for Information Ethics.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://icie.zkm.de/.
An academic website set up as a platform for exchanging information about worldwide teaching and research in information ethics.

MediaMOO Symposium: The Ethics of Research in Virtual Communities.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cipr/image/32.pdf.
Log of the symposium held on January 20th, 1997, as part of MediaMOO's fourth birthday celebration to discuss ethical issues raised by doing research in virtual communities.

The Confidentiality And PRIvacy group (CAPRI).
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.ccsr.ac.uk/capri/.
Webspace of CAPRI, University of Manchester, UK - a multidisciplinary team of researchers set up to investigate the confidentiality and privacy issues that arise from the collection, dissemination and analysis of data.

The ETHICS website.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/projects/ethics/index.html.
Web pages produced by the ETHICS Project, a one year initiative funded by the LTSN (now the Higher Education Academy). Aims to provide a useful resource for new teachers of ethics looking for ideas on course development, and also for experienced ethicists for whom it provides a 'snapshot' of current teaching and learning priorities.

The Online Research Ethics Course.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://ori.hhs.gov/education/ products/montana_round1/ research_ethics.html.
Online course developed through the Practical Ethics Center at the University of Montana with Office of Research Integrity (ORI) support during the 2002-03 academic year.

Research Ethics in a Virtual World: Some Guidelines and Illustrations.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cipr/image/20.pdf.
Virtual Methods paper by Nicholas W. Jankowski and Martine van Selm, Department of Communication, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


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Open/close headingResources from an international perspective

Digital Divide Network.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.digitaldivide.net/.
An online community for educators, activists, policy makers and concerned citizens working to bridge the digital divide. Users can build their own online community, publish a blog, share documents and discussions with colleagues, and post news, events and articles.

[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.bridges.org/.
An international non-profit organisation that promotes the effective use of ICT in the developing world to reduce poverty and improve people's lives.

The World Internet Project.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.worldinternetproject.net.
A project which originated at the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Communication Policy and which has set out to investigate and document the impact of the spread of internet usage.

[External Link - opens in a new window] http://Connect-World.com.
A series of magazines in which decision makers in the telecommunications and information technology sectors discuss their opinions about the impact of these technologies upon Global and regional development.

BBC News: Special report on the digital divide.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ special_report/ 1999/10/99/ information_rich_information_poor/ 466651.stm.
Series of news articles and related links from 1999. Includes case studies about Burkina Faso, Mongolia, Morocco and the United States.

Information Technologies and International Development
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/itid.
Journal focusing on the intersection of information and communication technologies (ICT) with international development.

World Summit on the Information Society
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.itu.int/wsis/.
Website reporting on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the first phase of which took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. The second phase took place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

id21 viewpoints: World Summit on the Information Society. What did it achieve for ICTs and Development? What did it ignore?
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.id21.org/ viewpoints/ WSISNov05.html.
Reflections from Richard Heeks of the University of Manchester on the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Methods for Social Researchers in Developing Countries
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://srmdc.net/.
A free Web-based course on social research methods written especially for students and staff in developing countries, but would also be useful for anyone attempting a research project for the first time. The website is sponsored by the Sudan-American Foundation for Education, Inc. and the Ahfad University for Women in Sudan and has been created by Dr Lee Burchinal. The content of the site is based on a book produced by the Ahfad University and covers all aspects of conducting a research project, including learning to think like a researcher, choosing a question and a research design, collecting and analysing data and reporting results. The site also contains a useful glossary, an extensive page of links and a relevant bibliography. A Help tutorial is also provided for Internet novices.


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Open/close headingUseful resources for copyright, data protection and internet law

Cyber-Rights and Cyber-Liberties
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.cyber-rights.org/
A non-profit civil liberties organisation which aims to promote free speech and privacy on the internet.

Internet Law and Policy Reform
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.ilpf.org/
An international nonprofit organization dedicated to the sustainable global development of the internet through legal and public policy initiatives.

Lawrence Lessig (Stanford Law School)
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.lessig.org/
Home page of the author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. Contains news on issues such as copyright on the internet of relevance to Lessig's work.

The Council of Europe. Convention on Cybercrime
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://conventions.coe.int/ Treaty/Commun/ ListeTraites.asp? MA=49&CM=7&CL=ENG
Provides the full text of the Council of Europe's convention on cybercrime including the additional protocol on rascist acts. Provides explanatory reports and summaries.

UK Information commissioner's site
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/
Website of the independent official appointed by the Crown to oversee the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Contains a range of information about UK legislation on these issues.

Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC): Data protection webpages
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.jisclegal.ac.uk/LegalAreas/DataProtection.aspx
A range of data protection resources including a code of practice and a briefing paper.

The University of Essex: Data protection webpages
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www2.essex.ac.uk/rm/dp/text_index.shtm
Comprehensive information about the University's data protection policies, including background information and links.

Lancaster University: Data Protection Project 2000-01
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.dpa.lancs.ac.uk/
A website aiming to provide a guide to Higher Education Institutions in the UK in complying with the Data Protection Act 1998.


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[Open/close heading]Key books

Baird, R. M., Ramsower, R. and Rosenbaum, S. E. (Eds.) (2000) Cyberethics: Social and Moral Issues in the Computer Age. Amherst NY. Prometheus Books. (Chapter 12).

Hamelink, C. J. (2000) The Ethics of Cyberspace. London. Sage.

Johns, M. D., Chen, S. S. and Hall, G. J. (Eds.) (2004) Online Social Research: Methods, Issues, and Ethics. New York. Peter Lang.

Johnson, D. G. (2001) Computer Ethics. New Jersey. Prentice Hall.

Spinello, R. (2003) Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace. London. Jones and Bartlett.

Spinello, R. (2004) Readings in Cyberethics. London. Jones and Bartlett.
(Focuses on four key issues of free speech, intellectual property, privacy and security/crime. Also includes professional ethics and codes of conduct).


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[Open/close heading]Special Journal Issues

Ethics and Information Technology (2002), 4, 3, 177-188. Special Issue on Internet Research Ethics.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.springerlink.com/
(The journal pages can be found by browsing or carrying out a search of the site).

The Information Society (1996), 12, 2, Special Issue on Ethics of Fair Practice for Collecting Social Science Data in Cyberspace.
[External Link - opens in a new window] http://www.indiana.edu/~tisj/


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[Open/close heading]Other useful references

Brey, P. (2000) Disclosive computer ethics, Computers and Society, 30, 4, 10-16.

Brownlow, C. and O'Dell, L. (2002) Ethical issues for qualitative research in online communities, Disability & Society, 17, 685-694.

Buchanan, E. A. (2000) Ethics, qualitative research and ethnography in virtual space, Journal of Information Ethics, 9, 82-87.

Clegg Smith, K. M. (2004) “Electronic eavesdropping”: The ethical issues involved in conducting a virtual ethnography, in Johns, M. D., Chen, S. S. and Hall, G. J. (Eds.) Online Social Research. New York. Peter Lang. pp. 223-238.

Collste, G. (2002) The internet doctor and medical ethics: Ethical implications of the introduction of the internet into medical encounters, Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 5, 2, 121-125.

Cotton, A. H. (2003-2004) Ensnaring webs and nets: Ethical issues in Internet-based research, Contemporary Nurse, 16, 114-123.

Elgesem, D. (2002) What is special about the ethical issues in online research? Ethics and Information Technology, 4, 195-203.

James, N. and Busher, H. (2007) Ethical issues in online educational research: Protecting privacy, establishing authenticity in email interviewing, International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 30, 1, 101-113.

Keller, H. E. and Lee, S. (2003) Ethical issues surrounding human participants research using the Internet, Ethics & Behavior, 13, 211-219.

Kerbs, R. W. (2005) Social and ethical considerations in virtual worlds, The Electronic Library, 23, 5, - 546.

Kleinman, S. S. (2002). Methodological and ethical challenges of researching a computer-mediated group, Journal of Technology in Human Services, 19, 2/3, 49-63.

McRobb, S. and Rogerson, S. (2004) Are they really listening?: An investigation into published online privacy policies at the beginning of the third millennium, Information Technology & People, 17, 4, 442-461.

Madge, C. (2007) Developing a geographers' agenda for online research ethics, Progress in Human Geography, 31, 654-674.

Marks, A. D. and Steinberg, K. K. (2002) The ethics of access to online genetic databases: Private or public? American Journal of PharmacoGenomics, 2, 3, 207-212.

Mathy, R. M., Kerr, D. L. and Haydin, B. M. (2003). Methodological rigor and ethical considerations in Internet-mediated research, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 40, 77-85.

Michelfelder, D. P. (2000) Our moral condition in cyberspace, Ethics and Information Technology, 2, 3, 147-152.

Nancarrow, C., Pallister, J. and Brace, I. (2001) A new research medium, new research populations and seven deadly sins for internet researchers, Qualitative market Research: an International Journal, 4, 3, 136-149.

Nosek, B. A., Banaji, M. R. and Greenwald, A. G. (2002). E-research: Ethics, security, design, and control in psychological research on the Internet, Journal of Social Issues, 58, 161-176.

Pittenger, D. J. (2003). Internet research: An opportunity to revisit classic ethical problems in behavioral research, Ethics & Behavior, 13, 45-60.

Reidenberg, J. R. (2000) Resolving conflicting international data privacy rules in cyberspace, Stanford Law Review, 52, 1315-1376.

Robson, K. and Robson, M. (2002) Your place or mine? Ethics, the researcher and the Internet, in Dilemmas in Welland, T. and Pugsley, L. (Eds.) Qualitative Research. Aldershot. Ashgate.

Santos, I. and LeBaron, J. (2006) Ethical constraints in the valid interpretation of transcribed communication in online study, Internet and Higher Education, 9, 3, 191-199.

Schrum, L. (1995) Framing the debate: Ethical research in the information age, Qualitative Inquiry, 1, 311-326.

Siang, S. (1999) Researching ethically with human subjects in cyberspace, Professional Ethics Report, 12, 4, 7-8.

Siegal, J., Dubrovsky, V., Kiesler, S.and McGuire, T. (1986) Group processes in computer-mediated communication, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 37, 157-187.

Stern, S. R. (2003) Encountering distressing information in online research: A consideration of legal and ethical responsibilities, New Media & Society, 5, 249-266.

Varnhagen, C. K., Gushta, M., Daniels, J., Peters, T. C., Parmar, N., Law, D., Hirsch, R., Sadler Takach, B. and Johnson, T. (2005) How Informed Is Online Informed Consent? Ethics & Behavior, 15, 1, 37-48.

Walther, J. B. (1992) Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated interaction: A relational perspective, Communication Research, 19, 52-90.

Walther, J. B. (2002) Research ethics in Internet-enabled research: Human subjects issues and methodological myopia, Ethics and Information Technology, 4, 205-216.


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