[Air-L] Dissertation

Heidelberg, Chris Chris.Heidelberg at ssa.gov
Thu Aug 9 05:51:41 PDT 2007

Brooks contact me offline and I can explain what you can do to keep yourself safe legally at least from an American perspective. Swiss law may differ somewhat. The key is to get written agreements with everyone to cover yourself in the event that you decide to publish commercially. You need to place that in your informed consent form so that folks understand that you own the rights to the research and that they consent to your use of their names, pseudo-names and likenesses. Get a creative commons license. 

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org [mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of brook bolander
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:13 AM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: [Air-L] Dissertation

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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