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The Association of Internet Researchers), and are starting to appear in some journals (e.g. Perhaps the most prominent statement addressing these issues is a report (Frankel & Siang, 1999) of a workshop sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that was convened to articulate these very issues and to provide tentative recommendations to Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), the committees at universities and research organizations in the United States that must consider approval and oversee research protocols.This report has been disseminated via the World Wide Web, and cited since its publication in outlets ranging from disciplinary journals and magazines, to US government publications such as the National Bioethics Advisory Board (2001) report that was sent to IRB directors (and addressed to the President of the United States).
These issues fall under concerns over protecting privacy, mitigating harm, and validating data collected from subjects, using the Internet.IRBs in the United States must take their guidance from the Code of Federal Regulations Title 45, Part 46, Protection of Human Subjects (hereafter, CFR), which in turn was created in the spirit of the Belmont Report (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979), a document outlining that research on humans must take care to respect autonomy (free will), beneficence (minimizing harm and preserving privacy), and justice toward human subjects.The Belmont Report and the CFR both recognize limitations and offer rationales for exceptions from their general requirements (e.g., when it is understandable and allowable not to seek informed consent from subjects prior to data collection).Although both documents were created prior to the advent of the Internet, they both offer general principles and practices, rather than instructions about specific media (i.e., no distinctions are made between face-to-face versus telephone-based research; although archival research is treated differently from interactive research, no distinction between paper or other archives is made).There are numerous problems, however, with the recommendations developed in the workshop report (hereafter, the Report) .That is, while each specific observation has some merit in one specific research context or another, the problem is that the admonitions are not confined by context.
Rather, the Report tends to characterize "Internet research" in a more or less monolithic way, as though the issues it considers pertain to most kinds of research conducted online.
The recommendations, however, do not pertain among all types of research.
Research Ethics in Internet-Enabled Research: Human Subjects Issues and Methodological Myopia Joseph B.
Walther Department of Communication Cornell University 336 Kennedy Hall Ithaca, NY 14853-4203 USA he widespread use of the Internet provides new vantage points from which to observe conventional behavior, views of new kinds of behavior, and new tools with which to observe it all.
Accompanying these opportunities come two specific concerns about research approaches: how new research methods using the Internet may or may not affect the ethical protections to which human subjects are entitled, and the validity of data collected using the Internet. National Institutes of Healths (NIH) former Office for Protection from Research Risks is quoted as saying, "Research that is invalid has no benefit (a)nd if theres no benefit at all, any inconvenience to subjects isnt worth it" (Azar, 2000, p. The issues, and debates over them, are beginning to take public form.
In some cases, these issues converge: Presuming that research must hold promise of advancing knowledge in order to justify any intrusion on human subjects, Dr. They occupy sessions in many fields and association meetings (e.g.