[Air-L] Ethical challenges in qualitative research using Facebook
Dan L. Burk
dburk at uci.edu
Wed Aug 3 19:53:10 PDT 2016
Hi Charles --
I guess I missed that message? (The one about Australia, having a fair
use policy.) I know they have been debating whether to adopt a fair use
provision (instead of fair dealing), and I thought it got tabled after
opposition from their recording industry. But it sounds like I had
better go check the status, maybe it succeeded after all. Thanks for the
See you in Berlin for sure. DLB
On 2016-08-03 14:05, Charles Ess wrote:
> Dear Dan, copy to Emily,
> with great regret at taking far longer to get to this than I would have liked - our daughter is now moved to Canada from Heidelberg, a project that took up a good deal of our collective time and energy these past few weeks as I'm sure you can imagine.
> In any event, just wanted to say thanks very much - between this and the Australian colleague's posting that Australia has a fair use policy, this got cleared up fairly nicely, I think.
> Again, many thanks and hope to see you in Berlin?
> best in the meantime,
> - c.
> On 27/07/16 09:00, Dan L. Burk wrote:
> Hi Charles -- In any Berne or TRIPs signatory country, copyright will arise automatically when the text is written. So, yes in most countries, certainly Australia. Whether that matters, (for example, whether Australian fair dealing might allow the posts to be used or quoted for research purposes regardless) is a whole other question that I can't answer off the cuff. Cheers, DLB On 2016-07-25 23:14, Charles Ess wrote: Hi Emily and colleagues, First of all, kudos for your taking such good care at looking into these ethical dimensions of your research. Secondly, a couple of questions: are the posts drawn exclusively from Australian FB users - and if so, what is the Australian law regarding what appears in a public context online? In the U.S., last I knew, such postings are considered automatically copyrighted, and so one ethical-legal issue is, should this be the law in Australia as well, to recognize the posters as copyright holders. Thirdly, the methodological approach and !
affiliated ethical challenges as you describe them are, in my somewhat limited experience, rather standard. This means that I've seen similar projects - including ones involving far more sensitive expression - receive IRB and REB approval, so I would not stop with your worst-case scenarios (though these are clearly and carefully thought out - again, kudos). Some possibilities. In terms of dissemination / publication - would it be possible to (a) disguise many, if not the majority of posts by way of a paraphrase and/or aggregate identity (if appropriate), thereby avoiding direct citations, while (b) using some direct citations when absolutely necessary - and then requesting permission to do so? While there are difficulties with requesting such permission, as you point out, in my experience (i.e., reading about and/or discussing similar cases in a variety of contexts - the U.S., the E.U., and Scandinavia), these are not insurmountable. To be sure, one needs to exercise caution
regarding identity - though these days, it seems that the vast majority of FB identities are more or less authentic. Ditto in the case of a vulnerable group, beginning with legal minors. But with care, permission can be requested when necessary in ethically sensitive and responsible ways. Of course, there will likely be a few instances of "no, thank you" (or less politely) - but with any luck, having to omit perhaps a handful of choice citations (and relegating them back into more anonymized form if possible / necessary), will not prevent you from having sufficient evidence and analyses to effectively respond to your research questions. That's at least my first take - and I only offer these as first thoughts, knowing that there are real experts on this list, including several colleagues in Australia who will have better information about the Aussie context, as well as our colleagues Elizabeth Buchanan, Michael Zimmer, Annette Markham, and many others in the northern hemisphe!
extensive experience in these domains as well who will have much more to add. Hope this helps, then, as at least a helpful start in the discussion. Again, kudos and all best wishes, - charles -- Professor in Media Studies Department of Media and Communication University of Oslo <http://www.hf.uio.no/imk/english/people/aca/charlees/index.html > Editor, The Journal of Media Innovations <https://www.journals.uio.no/index.php/TJMI/ > Postboks 1093 Blindern 0317 Oslo, Norway c.m.ess at media.uio.no <mailto:c.m.ess at media.uio.no> On Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 7:06 AM, Emily Wolfinger <emilywolfinger at hotmail.com <mailto:emilywolfinger at hotmail.com> wrote: Hi AoIR Community, I am a PhD Candidate and I have run into some ethical issues in my research, which I am looking for some guidance on. I am exploring Facebook user perceptions of sole mother poverty and welfare in Australia, focusing on a period of welfare debate in which sole parent pension amendments were introduced (May 2012-Janua!
I'm undertaking a discourse analysis of a subset of comments across four categories of public pages and groups- media, political parties and ministers, welfare/charity organisations and sole mother networks- that were published in response to the amendments. Although Facebook Data Policy considers this information public, Internet research ethics guidelines and other academic papers point to a number of ethical issues around publishing the comments of users without obtaining their consent. As I am doing a post-structural discourse analysis this is unavoidable unless I consider paraphrasing or similar techniques that aim to protect the identity of users, however this strategy raises questions of scientific rigor and does not seem to be one that is widely used or indeed fool proof. There are also issues around contacting users for consent, for example users could be underage or belong to other vulnerable groups. I am left with two options if I take a worst case scenario approa!
these dilemmas - either tweak my research question (for example to look at the posts of public figures and organisations such as media outlets) or consider alternative research methods which do not present the ethical challenges of discourse analysis or other methods of close analysis, but allow me to answer my research question (What were the Facebook user perceptions of sole mother poverty and welfare in Australia between May 2012 and January 2013?). Any suggestions for readings, tips or advice regarding ways forward including methods would be most appreciated. Many thanks in advance, Emily _______________________________________________ The Air-L at listserv.aoir.org <mailto: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/ 
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dburk at uci.edu
School of Law
University of California, Irvine
4500 Berkeley Place
Irvine, CA 92697-8000
Voice: (949) 824-9325
bits: dburk at uci.edu
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