[Air-L] Blogs & Confidentiality

Sanaz Raji S.Raji at leeds.ac.uk
Mon Nov 28 10:54:38 PST 2011


I agree with the points that Terri Senft made on this thread. For my project I follow the same policy that Senft outlined before I commenced my fieldwork; one consent form for interviews and another for gaining permission to quote sections from a blog and/or YouTube post. I also allow my participants to review what I have written about their work so that they can comment on sections that need further clarification. This should be standard practice for all online research. No researcher wants to repeat the incident that happened to the Iranian bloggers who participated in Nasrin Alavi's book, "We Are Iran".   Nasrin Alavi failed to implement clear consent to those involved in the project. It appears that she had a sketchy way of collecting consent it seems. After the blog was published outside of Iran, Iranian bloggers began to hear through various means about how their blog posts were constructed and discoursed without their full consent in the book. Understandably it made many of them very angry. Some felt used and deceived by Alavi as this blogger Sabir comments: 


Many of these bloggers do not have access to the full book and some, like the case of Sabir, had to rely on migrating to a country in the West in order to preview the book. What really irks me is that Alavi is making money and connections on the backs of these bloggers, and now has the acquired the status as the expert on Iranian bloggers. Meanwhile, Iranian bloggers who participated in this book still have a very limited means to refute what Alavi wrote about regarding their blogs. Likewise, it makes the job as a researcher harder, especially now among Iranian and Iranian diasporic bloggers who can be understandably wary of participating in projects similar to Alavi's for fear of being misquoted and/or misrepresented altogether. There is also a huge element of trust and once that is broken, it is hard to regain. 

This is why gaining consent in a correct manner is so important.

Best wishes:
Sanaz Raji
ICS PhD Scholar
Institute of Communications Studies
University of Leeds
Mobile: +44 (0) 785 4706 374
ICS URL: http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/details.cfm?id=185&susername=cssr
Guardian URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/sanaz-raji

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