[Air-L] IRB and social media

Tuszynski, Stephanie STuszynski at bethanywv.edu
Tue Sep 27 07:56:29 PDT 2011

Shelia - the listservs may be a complicated situation unless you or your students run them. You might want to ask the list moderators for permission if there aren't explicit rules about off topic discussion you can cite that apply to sharing a survey link. However, sending out a survey link via your own content streams (social networks) should be fine since they're yours.

It might help grease the skids with your IRB if you point them to the Ethics Guide written by the AoIR Ethics Working Group: http://aoir.org/documents/ethics-guide/
Your IRB may just have no idea what guidelines to apply to online research if they've never done any of it. If you show them the Guide, and say "Here, these are the leading experts in the field and we're adhering to the standards they wrote" it might make the IRB feel more confident that there are rules and you're following them.

Good luck!

Dr. Stephanie Tuszynski
Assistant Professor of Communications and Media Arts
Bethany College
Bethany, WV


Message: 7
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 08:57:17 -0500
From: Shelia Cotten <cotten at uab.edu>
To: "air-l at listserv.aoir.org" <air-l at listserv.aoir.org>
Cc: Shelia Cotten <cotten at uab.edu>
Subject: [Air-L] IRB and social media
        <985AA569D0188A4E9F689A2CC20F058C0BA42230 at UABEXMBS7.ad.uab.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

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 R. Cotten, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
cotten at uab.edu

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