[Air-l] RE: Great Ethical disasters in Internet Research?

Eszter Hargittai eszterlists at netscape.net
Sat Jul 13 12:25:26 PDT 2002

> researchers who are guilty of negligence are acting in ways that will
> harm others – not just the individuals they are working with – but also
> because they close down opportunities for valuable Internet research to
> be conducted in the future.

This is a very important point.  The unfortunate reality is that academic research is not done in isolation from private sector "consumer research" when it comes to potential respondents.  As far as I understand, private corporations don't have human subjects guidelines to abide by like academics do. So how do we deal with the repercussions of that kind of research?

The comparison case I am thinking about here is telemarketers and how disasterous the rise of that activity has been to social science projects that rely on surveys conducted over the phone.  Response rates keep dropping, people are suspicious, it's increasingly difficult to recruit respondents.

> We're all starting to be aware that increasingly chat rooms and
> newsgroups are starting to resent the intrusion of researchers who they

I don't know of the cases you refer to Chris because I am not that familiar with this area. I would be very interested in hearing some examples. We can all learn from hearing about cases (methods, research design) that shouldn't be replicated.



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