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Ethics Working Committee Draft. Do Not Distribute. For Review Only.

All Comments

Comments on the Book

  • Potential Areas for Unethical Research or Misuse of Internet Data (8 comments)

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      I think the document would be improved by fleshing out these a bit more. Make them sections, and add a few sentences for each.  I’m willing to help….

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 11th, 2011

      local/regional comment should be removed. Reconsider changing language from violation/failure.

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 11th, 2011

      Be attentive to common concerns raised by IRBs–but remove the bullets and revise as a narrative.

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 11th, 2011

      dont end on this negative note!!
       

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      ethical questions about the researcher, not just researcher; what vulnerabilities exist?

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      consider weaving into narrative elsewhere–consider explaining these vis-a-vis types/definitions of internet researcher

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      Respect for individuals, community, and future communities of research–think of the scorched earth example. (deception??)

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 12th, 2012

      Would another “failure” be to not communicate with one’s IRB in these circumstances?

  • The Distance Principle (7 comments)

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      This is good, but it doesn’t really help a researcher. How should the “distance principle” actually be applied?  Is the document suggesting that the greater the “distance”, the less likely the research involves a “human”? This is unclear.

      • Comment by Steve Jones on February 12th, 2012

        Does “text” need to be defined? “Person?” What about “private” and “public?” I ask this only somewhat rhetorically. These terms are going to be contested and while I don’t think we can provide precise definitions perhaps we can note that they are?  

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      Generally for this section, I wonder why it is placed under “Definitions”. Are we attempting to complicate the definition of “human”?  If so, that should be the section heading, and then we simply bring up the distance principle.
      Or, this content could be moved over to teh introductory text for the broader principles, where a similar discussion of the difficulties in considering “harm” is presented.

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      online and onground lives–online reputations and realities can also be harmed.
       
      (See Bruckman here); what if this really matters to the person who invested in this production?

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      need explicit examples here–text and person (think bruckman and breast cancer forum example); term is not working; what can we do to make this work? see nissenbaum re contextual integrity? less about distance and more about tensions.
       
      argument for plurality
       
      thinking about the researchers who will come after us–what precedent are we setting?
       
      Search and replace–physical world versus real world language. Use physical world person.
       

    • Comment by Tom Boellstorff on October 12th, 2011

      Change “real-life person” to “physical-world person”

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 12th, 2012

      Ten or so years ago I think I would have very much agreed. Now… not necessarily. While I don’t disagree regarding the involvement of a person somewhere in the process, that is only true now for some processes. The increasing amount of machine/human interaction and use of algorithms is changing this somewhat for me. 

  • Ethical Pluralism (4 comments)

    • Comment by Alex H. on September 6th, 2011

      I understand and respect this stance. That said, I also am slightly disappointed. Part of the problem is that there is a set of ethical concerns, and then a set of institutional strictures. There may not be a “right” answer to an ethical conundrum, but there are answers that get past an IRB and those that don’t–a fairly binary judgment. Such pluralism is most helpful when there is a clear pointer to how others have reached a judgement in similar circumstances… something that is often not easy to find.

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      I agree with Alex, and perhaps all that is needed is a statement indicated that while the document strives to maintain a stance of pluralism, it still does make some general recommendations to guide researchers through the IRB process.
      And, how that I’ve just typed that, I suppose that’s an issue related to the purpose of the document: is it meant to discuss the ethics of research (requiring pluralistic stance) or is it meant as a guide to get through IRB (with less of a pluralistic need).

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      blogs as example again (CITI) says no.

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 7th, 2012

      Maybe we should require, or at least strongly urge, that people who use the document in their work contribute a synopsis of how they used it, whether it was in fact useful, and whether they might change anything about it?

  • Charting Ethical Questions by Data Type and Venue (4 comments)

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 12th, 2011

      rework chart to a narrative form.

    • Comment by Jill Walker Rettberg on March 19th, 2012

      This is a great overview, and will be very useful in teaching. I wonder, though, whether we might need to add data from mobile devices – I suppose it could be construed as the last venue in your list, but say I create an Android app that gathers all data about the carrier of the phone (e.g. phone calls, texts, photos taken, contents of address book, GPS location, use of apps, battery life, accelerometer data etc) and want to analyze this in some kind of anonymised aggregated form – for instance, see MIT’s Reality Mining dataset http://reality.media.mit.edu/dataset.php – I think there’ll be more and more of this kind of research in the future and it’s not at all clear how to deal with it ethically.

      • Comment by admin on March 19th, 2012

        Jill,

        Agree with everything you’re saying. Thanks for the feedback. Do you have a list of questions that could fill out this section of a chart? Or could you brainstorm one?

      • Comment by annette on April 18th, 2012

        Jill: What might be a couple of the questions you have in your mind, from an ethical perspective?

  • Definitions (3 comments)

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      Might want to make mention of using the internet for data processing/coding (crowdsourcing, Mechanical Turk, etc), and even for data storage/dissemination (how relying on DropBox, etc might have data access/security implications)

    • Comment by elizabeth on October 11th, 2011

      providing examples where tensions play out. art history (eg). blogging (eg); pii–reference to definitions of PII form various countries as illustrations of cultural pluralism. Allow for precise definitions here.

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 9th, 2012

      My concern here is that we may need to define human subjects research within the context of these definitions, so perhaps we need a working definition of human subjects as well? How might the items listed (“data scraping” and “collecting” and “datasets, databanks, repositories” for instance) be parsed by someone who has a focus on human subjects? Would they dismiss the document at this point? Would they (in my opinion) overreact and think that all of these are human subjects issues of grave concern?

  • Broad Ethical Considerations (3 comments)

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      This is important.

      • Comment by Steve Jones on February 12th, 2012

        Not necessarily, particularly as we continue to increase interaction with agents, search engines, algorithms, etc. Is it not possible that a person may not exist in the information stream?

    • Comment by annette on April 18th, 2012

      I agree a person may not exist in the information stream in any deliberate fashion, yet when they are impacted by their information flow, this is still an ethical concern.  I wonder if we would call it something besides ‘human subject considerations’ in such situations, since the term is laden with the baggage of direct-contact regulations.

  • Purpose and Audience (2 comments)

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 8th, 2012

      Why “thus?”

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 8th, 2012

      Might we also note in this paragraph that it serves as a resource for policymakers?

  • Guidelines, not Codes (2 comments)

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      Related to the comments on the “ethical pluralism” page, I think this paragraph helps settle the issue. Good how it notes “this approach thus highlights the researcher’s responsibility for making such judgments and decisions within specific contexts”, etc. The focus on contexts is important.

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 7th, 2012

      Would it be useful to add that not only are they operationalized but also contextualized institutionally and/or geographically?

  • Internet Research (2 comments)

    • Comment by Michael Zimmer on October 11th, 2011

      I think it could be helpful to have some citations here for the existing literature; it could help those using the document to make a case to an IRB.

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 8th, 2012

      I still tend to think that the issues are not really “novel,” that it is more a matter of scale, but my concern here is not so much philosophical (well, it is, but this isn’t the place) as it is practical. Particularly for IRBs a paragraph like this could needlessly ring alarm bells.

  • How to review and make comments (1 comment)

    • Comment by admin on September 30th, 2011

      Appears to be working now.   Sept 30 11:19 PST

  • Conclusion (1 comment)

    • Comment by Steve Jones on February 12th, 2012

      Should there be a request here for those who do use the document to add to it in some fashion, perhaps through cases, comments, etc.?

  • Research addressing methods and ethics: (1 comment)

    • Comment by Jonalyn on November 22nd, 2011

      I much prefer informative atrilces like this to that high brow literature.

  • Research addressing issues with studying minors or vulnerable populations (1 comment)

    • Comment by Eva SVedmark on October 11th, 2011

      The ref to ikonomidis Svedmark should be:
      Ikonomidis Svedmark E. Med nätet som fält : urvalstankar, känslostormar och etikproblem [Studying affective online sharing; A balance between ethics and emotions] Kulturella perspektiv – Svensk etnologisk tidskrift. 2011;(2):11-21.

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