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

Comments by Commenter

  • admin

  • Alex H.

    • Comment on Ethical Pluralism 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.

  • annette

    • Comment on Broad Ethical Considerations 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.

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

  • elizabeth

  • Eva SVedmark

  • Jill Walker Rettberg

    • 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.

  • Jonalyn

  • Michael Zimmer

    • Comment on Broad Ethical Considerations on October 11th, 2011

      This is important.

    • Comment on Definitions 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 on Ethical Pluralism 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 on Guidelines, not Codes 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 on Internet Research 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.

    • 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 on The Distance Principle 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 on The Distance Principle 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.

  • Steve Jones

    • Comment on Broad Ethical Considerations 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 on Conclusion 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.?

    • Comment on Definitions 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?

    • Comment on Ethical Pluralism 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?

    • Comment on Guidelines, not Codes on February 7th, 2012

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

    • Comment on Internet Research 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.

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

    • Comment on Purpose and Audience on February 8th, 2012

      Why “thus?”

    • Comment on Purpose and Audience on February 8th, 2012

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

    • Comment on The Distance Principle 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. 

    • Comment on The Distance Principle 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?  

  • Tom Boellstorff