Research conducted online

If you are collecting research data from online sources such as social media, blogs and discussion groups, it is crucial to consider the ethical implications.

Increasingly, research data is gathered from online discussion groups, blogs, social media, websites, as well as that is gathered through online interviews, questionnaires, and other digital forms of data collection. Central to each of these data collection methods is the need to consider the ethical implications of data gathered in this way. The Economic and Social Research Council note:

“Researchers are now making greater use of datasets which have been generated through internet-mediated technology and social media. Researchers need to consider the ethical issues which arise; for example, the interpretation of anonymity and whether participants (e.g. social media users) would consider data in the public domain to be private, the meaning of informed consent in this context and the important issue of what permissions a researcher has over the data supplied by the data producer (e.g. Facebook or Twitter data).”

Please consult the following sources for information on the ethical considerations of research conducted online:

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