AM Panels & Technical Sessions 2009 START Conference Manager    

The Ethics of Studying Online Communities: Challenges to Research Design and Data Collection

Hsin-liang Chen and Sheila Denn

(Submission #18)


Web sites, like online newspapers, magazines, and blogs, have been providing their readers with online forums as ways to voice their perspectives. These Web sites are often seen as online communities and have recently gained much attention from researchers. Due to the nature of these online communities, however, and the dynamic nature of the Internet, we lack systematic methodologies for collecting and analyzing online information (Zhou, Qin, Lai, & Chen, 2007; FTC. 2008). One of the challenges to studying this phenomenon is how to carry out a research project in a timely manner. The nature of online communities is dynamic and, therefore, requires a dynamic research approach.The results demonstrated a better understanding of the extremists' movements. In sum, the purposes of the panel are: 1) to explore research opportunities from online communities, 2) to examine the current IRB procedures for online community studies, and 3) to discuss professional ethics for studies on online communities. The panelists will present their observations and research results and discuss future trends. Issues to be addressed

Is it appropriate to use comments from online communities for research purposes?

How do we validate the reliability of those comments?

Who can grant researchers permission to use the comments?

Is the current IRB procedure suitable for online community studies?

How do researchers obtain IRB approval for projects that will take place in a dynamic research environment?

How can we address emerging professional ethics issues regarding online community studies?


SIG SPONSORSHIP?: Information Needs, Seeking and Use (USE)

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