Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Internet Research Ethics

The following are some notes I got from my class Life Online regarding internet research ethics.

o IRB- Institutional Review Board they oversee ‘human subjects research/review
o 3 overarching principles:
o Autonomy- informed consent, anonymity/confidentiality (also part of benefit), vulnerable populations (possible coercive effects)
• Anonymity-
o Beneficence- the benefits of the research has to out weight the risks
o Justice- any advantages are fairly distributed.
• 2001- American Anthropology Association had a scandal about Napoleon Chagnon. A book was written which focuses on discrediting Chagnon, Darkness in El Dorado, "The Fierce Anthropologist", by Patrick Tierney Chagnon was accused of purposely spreading measles into the villages. The AAA issued a report condemning Chagnon for his practices, for not giving vaccinations to the subjects because it would have impacted their research.
• Things to consider- what are the obligations of the researcher to the subjects?
o Risks, audience, purpose, confidentiality,
o Issues arise for anthropologists when they study higher end groups.
o We owe at minimum gratitude, and protection to our human subjects.
o Persistence of data- not everyone is aware of how archived and long-term data is online and the accessibility of it.
• Distinction between perception and reality
• Keep track of identifying info they may not have put online
o The Internet has the ability to bring together in the same activity that has very different understanding of the activity.
o Written vs. oral consent-
• Vulnerable population- as long as the topic is not inheritably controversial and you’re not targeting a site with a large population of minors. As long as you ask to be notified if you the subject are not over 18, you should be ok.
It is definitely a complex situation.

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