[Air-l] Science News Online: The Social Net

Steve Jones sjones at uic.edu
Wed Jun 5 10:42:18 PDT 2002

Whether Internet research or not, since the investigator is 
interacting with human subjects, I strongly suspect that my 
university's IRB would not approve research in which the investigator 
is "posing" as anything, given the emphasis on informed consent.


At 1:14 PM -0400 6/5/02, Jenny Stromer-Galley wrote:
>Thanks for sending this link. It's an interesting summation of the research.
>What struck me was the final paragraphs, in particular, the method employed
>by Jack Glaser:
>"Some researchers hope to use the Internet to explore the largely hidden
>world of such groups. For instance, psychologist Jack Glaser of the
>University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues posed as curious,
>naive visitors to ask 38 participants in several white supremacist chat
>rooms about their ideas on biracial marriage and other racial issues."
>"Glaser considers this technique ethical because participants were contacted
>in a public forum, weren't coerced, addressed common topics of conversation
>in their chat rooms, and were not personally identified by the researchers.
>Surreptitious interviewing might also yield new insights into such denizens
>of the Internet as child pornographers and illegal weapons traders, Glaser
>"However, deceiving people on the Internet in the name of science "is
>ethically on the edge," remarks New York University psychologist John A.
>Bargh. No ethical guidelines for conducting online research currently exist,
>he notes."
>I have thought about engaging in this kind of questioning on online
>discussion spaces, but have stopped myself because there is no way I could
>publish what I found. My univeristy, the University of Pennsylvania,
>requires a review of *all* research that involves humans, even the kind
>Glaser engages in. I am 90% sure that my review board would not allow such
>research to be done. At the same time, I think I agree with Glaser that the
>research is ethical because it's a public forum, he's not asking them about
>things tangential to their organization, and he is not identifying them in
>his research findings.
>I know AoIR has worked on ethics guidelines. What do you think about
>Glaser's practices? And why doesn't John Bargh know about AoIR's ethics
>guidelines :-) . . . .
>~Jenny Stromer-Galley
>>  interesting light overview of net social research . . .
>>  The Social Net: Scientists hope to download some insight into online
>>  interactions
>>  Bruce Bower
>>  Science News Online, Week of May 4, 2002; Vol. 161, No. 18
>>  http://www.sciencenews.org/20020504/bob9.asp
>>  ____________________________
>>  Joseph Cothrel
>>  Vice President of Research
>>  Participate Systems, Inc.
>>  Chicago, IL USA
>>  jcothrel at participate.com
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>Air-l at aoir.org

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