[Air-L] Ensuring privacy in online interviewing

Aaron S. Veenstra aaron at etchouse.com
Wed Mar 7 11:56:22 PST 2012

This strikes me as being a bit onerous, and it would probably be worth
suggesting the F2F or phone comparison to the reviewer. F2F, in
particular, could be far less private than an IM conversation -- is it
verboten to meet an interviewee in a coffee shop? To be clear, is the
reviewer's issue that the conversation might be intercepted, rather
than the log later stolen out of your archive? Maybe also offer to
make explicit to participants that these platforms are not necessarily
secure. FWIW, my IRB recently approved a similar study, which I'm
currently conducting, and I think trying to force people into some
new, encrypted IM platform that they didn't already know would be a
big barrier to participation. My group has interviewed people over
Skype, AIM, Facebook chat and Google chat, all in response to
interviewee preferences.


On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 12:41 PM, Jenni Whitmer <jmariewhitmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm in the midst of revising an IRB protocol for my dissertation. I will be
> interviewing fashion bloggers about their experiences with blogging and
> their thoughts on the relation between blogging and fashion media. The
> bloggers I will be interviewing are all public figures, to one degree or
> another, and I don't see the questions I'm asking as being very sensitive
> in nature. I planned to interview respondents using their choice of Skype
> or instant messaging service. The IRB reviewer asked me to clarify how I
> plan to ensure privacy and confidentiality over Skype and IM specifically
> because they are online. I'm a little unsure of what to say. I suppose I
> can't guarantee privacy 100% over a public network, but is the threat
> really much more notable than being overheard during a face to face or
> phone interview?  I was wondering if anyone had any advice or could refer
> me to any articles that address this issue. Are there any IM programs I
> could use that might minimize threats to privacy?
> --
> Jennifer Whitmer, MA
> Dept. of Sociology
> University of Nevada, Las Vegas
> Las Vegas, NV 89154-5033
> phone: 440-429-5957
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Aaron S. Veenstra
Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
School of Journalism || 1234 Comm Building
asveenstra at siu.edu || manytoomany.com

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