[Air-L] Dissertation

brook bolander brookbolander at gmail.com
Thu Aug 9 00:12:53 PDT 2007

Dear AOIR,

I am writing my PhD on the subject of "power in blogs", and thereby
exploring how power is negotiated in the interaction between bloggers and
their readers, and between the readers themselves in the comments sections
of blog posts in which conflicts are salient. I have
received an initial e-mail confirmation from the bloggers that they consent
to my research and have given them the option of requiring me to use
psuedonyms. I now intend to write to the bloggers, asking for their
addresses, so I can outline the project in more detail and
obtain written consent.

I am aware, however, that research on the internet can be very complicated
in terms of ethical issues. What I am less sure about are the legal issues.
Am I correct in assuming that if I do not include quotations, use pseudonyms
for the readers (whose permission I have not gained), use pseudonyms for
those bloggers who ask me to (one blogger has explicitly asked me not to),
gain written consent from the bloggers themselves and inform them in the
letter what the study entails, that I will run into no ethical or legal
problems? All my bloggers state they are adults.

Or do I need to write to the hosts as well, like blogger, for example, to
ask for their permission as well?

One of the bloggers asked me whether she would have any problems vis à vis
her readers if she consented to my study, for example, and I found I didn't
really know, with any certainty, what to reply.

I hope that my PhD will be published in a couple of years, and am not sure
whether that plays a role in terms of its label as something for 'commerical
purposes'. I am writing my PhD in Switzerland.

I really want to go about this the right way and am having problems gaining
the information I need.

Thanks a lot in advance for your help,
Best wishes
Brook Bolander

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