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

Introduction & Background

Permalink for this paragraph 0 The work represented in this version emerges from theoretical, empirical and field research conducted by members of the Association of Internet Researchers, including members of the AoIR Ethics Working Group.

Permalink for this paragraph 0 The first release of the AoIR Ethical Decision-Making document occurred in 2002, after two years of international and cross-disciplinary collaboration. The document and its guidelines emerged from a series of extensive dialogues among researchers experienced with facing and resolving ethical issues in Internet research, philosophers, and other members of AoIR’s international, interdisciplinary community. The intention was to develop guidelines from the bottom up — i.e., out of the day-to-day practices of researchers in a wide range of disciplines, countries and contexts, in contrast with a more usual top-down approach that tries to apply norms, principles, practices, etc., in a deductive way.  This approach was crucial because the enterprise of Internet research is expansive — that is, globally informed — but also situated in innumerable locales. Workshops conducted annually at the AoIR Internet Research conferences, from 2005 through the present, have provided extensive groundwork from which this document emerged. Given the interdisciplinary and intercultural research of AoIR, more than one set of (often conflicting) norms, principles, values, policies, or laws can be seen to apply to a specific case/issue.  The document has subsequently received much use, and has been cited and used in a wide range of publications by a diverse number of disciplines (see Appendix 1).  The AoIR Guidelines document has also been used by research ethics boards (REBs) and institutional review boards (IRBs) when making decisions about Internet research-based protocols (Buchanan & Ess, 2009).