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Title: Ethical issues in on-line research: authenticating voice, sustaining privacy
Authors: Busher, Hugh
James, Nalita
First Published: May-2006
Presented at: 8th International Conference on Education,, Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), Athens: Greece 2006
Start Date: 25-May-2006
End Date: 28-May-2006
Abstract: At the heart of any research project lies the trustworthiness with which its findings might be viewed. In which ever paradigm researchers choose to locate their work, they try to ensure the trustworthiness or credibility of its outcomes by enacting it within a rigorous framework that addresses the epistemological complexities of a study’s methodological process and intellectual focus. At the core of this framework lie the ethics of research. These are of particular importance for people engaged in research and practice in education and the social sciences who deal with human subjects in various forms. The screw is tightened further when the methodology used for a study is qualitative and the study uses the web as a medium for the investigation. In studies that explore people’s narratives it is essential to be confident that the people responding to semi or unstructured interview schedules are whom they claim they are. Impersonation would invalidate a study. This is particularly difficult to detect behind the smoked-glass of the web interface. For the participants in such research, too, the ethical dilemmas are considerable since every message that is sent on email carries a unique identifier that links it to the site from which it is sent and to the person who owns that site. Should such information inadvertently filter into the data sets of a research project, then that person’s privacy will be easily breached. This paper considers some of the ethical dilemmas involved in on-line qualitative research, drawing on examples from some studies to discuss how such dilemmas might be addressed in an effort to construct the unattainable but pursue the utopian: fully ethical research.
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Conference Paper
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers & Presentations, School of Education

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