[Air-L] IRB and social media

Shelia Cotten cotten at uab.edu
Mon Sep 26 19:52:14 PDT 2011

Hi Monica. The IRB related this to issues with confidentiality, noting that people who 'liked' the post on FB or RTed it on twitter could lose their confidentiality. They have now relented so that we can use Facebook, with very specific wording about NOT liking the post and instructions to people who wish to share it on their FB walls.

I plan to talk with them more tomorrow as RTing or liking something on FB does not mean that you have responded to a survey, etc. And, I plan to note some of the things that members of AoIR and CITASA have suggested today.

I will post a compilation later this week, hopefully after the IRB issue is resolved.



From: Monica Barratt [tronica at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, September 26, 2011 7:06 PM
To: Shelia Cotten
Cc: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: Re: [Air-L] IRB and social media

Hi Shelia

Can I ask what rationale the IRB provides for not allowing social
media recruitment?

I think it is a good idea to get permissions from the
owners/moderators of listservs/forums before posting a recruitment
email to them (it's not that hard to contact them first and see if
they support your research, and if they do, you can mention that in
the recruitment email too). They may also be interested in seeing the
results of your research so it can be good to build a relationship
with such online groups rather than just posting the research and
never coming back to the group. You can read about how we did it here:

On a personal note, recently one of my research colleagues decided to
post asking people to participate in her research on everybody's
facebook walls, including mine. The research was about sexual partners
and 'no strings attached' sex. I actually didn't want this on my wall
- would have been fine with it in a private message. I felt that it
was completely appropriate to post about the research to the news feed
but when it came to posting it on my wall... seemed a bit too far, a
bit too much like spam? Just my personal reaction. But in the end, I
was completely free to delete it from my wall, no harm done regarding
ethics... I guess the other thing I tend to think about when it comes
to online recruitment is whether it will annoy people or whether
people will feel that the method of recruitment is appropriate. As
well as ethical!

Thanks Steve for the article link about sociologists reluctant towards
internet methods, the full link is here:


Monica Barratt

On 26 September 2011 23:57, Shelia Cotten <cotten at uab.edu> wrote:
> Hi everyone. For my grad Survey Research course this semester, I'm planning to have my students do a web-based survey to be disseminated via social media. My IRB is giving us major issues with this. We had planned to use our social networks to disseminate the survey (in part this is a methodological experiment too) - so post on our Facebook walls, email people, post on listservs, and tweet it.
> Our IRB doesn't want us to do anything other than email people basically. This seems so archaic given the proliferation of social media. If we are to use listservs, we have to get permission from each one and provide a letter to the IRB from each one.
> Thoughts, suggestions, etc. for helping us deal with this issue?
> Thanks in advance for any help you can provide! If you want to email me directly at cotten at uab.edu, I will be glad to post a summary of the responses.
> Shelia
> *******************************************
> Shelia R. Cotten, PhD
> Associate Professor
> Department of Sociology
> 205-934-8678
> cotten at uab.edu
> _______________________________________________
> The Air-L at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
> is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
> Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at: http://listserv.aoir.org/listinfo.cgi/air-l-aoir.org
> Join the Association of Internet Researchers:
> http://www.aoir.org/

More information about the Air-L mailing list