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Re: Ethical issues for on-line interviews

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  • Rick Parkany
    Natilene: I am conducting similar research for my dissertation @ SUNYAlbany. I teach on-line courses and submitted my research proposal to the IRB. In the
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 1, 1999
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      Natilene: I am conducting similar research for my dissertation @ SUNYAlbany. I teach on-line courses and submitted my research proposal to the IRB. In the proposal, I enumerated the protocol for participation which enumerated the machines and media on which I would store the material. I used the typical means to ensure such rights by coding pseudonyms, etc. They approved the study.

      *Locks only keep out honest people* is a phrase I learned a long time ago. Neither you nor anyone else is a guarantor against the fraud perpetrated by someone else. There are laws that seek to punish those elements. IMHO professional ethics require YOU to provide all reasonable means to ensure the rights of participants. IF you choose to go beyond these APA or other professional ethical goals, this is commendable, but, IMHO, not necessary. At any rate, they will not excoriate you if they have concerns, nor will they disapprove of your study, unless they are
      unethical. What they will do is what you would wish: they will give you explicit instructions on how to *come up to code and specs*.

      Good luck and keep in touch... ;-} rap.

      Natilene Bowker wrote:

      > From: Natilene Bowker <Natilene.Bowker.1@...>
      >
      > Hello all,
      >
      > I'm currently considering application to a Human Ethics Committee for my Phd research, where data will largely be collected via on-line interviews conducted on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), through private chatrooms and possibly over email. I know that the ethics committee will want to know whether I can guarantee anonymity and confidentiality for interviewees. I'm not sure if I can due to nature of the on-line medium, such as the potential for someone with enough knowledge to gain access to a private chatroom, and the insecurity of information passed through email.
      >
      > I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has dealt with ethics in relation to carrying out data collection on-line, particularly on-line interviews. How did you go about dealing with ethics? Did you take any measures to lessen lack of information security on-line?There may be other issues as well in relation to carrying out data collection on-line that I may not have thought about.
      >
      > Regards, Natilene.
      >
      > PhD Student
      > School of Psychology
      > Massey University
      > Private Bag 11-222
      > Palmerston North
      > Ph. (hm) +64 06 355 3693
      >
      > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
      >
      > ONElist: the best place to EXPLORE topics, SHARE ideas, and
      > CONNECT to people with the same interests.
      >
      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      > Please Visit Cybersoc (http://www.cybersoc.com) and Cybersociology Magazine (http://www.cybersociology.com).



      --
      "Dein Wachstum sei feste und lache vor Lust!
      Deines Herzens Trefflichkeit / hat dir selbst das Feld bereit',
      auf dem du bluehen musst." Peasant, Richard A. Parkany: SUNY@Albany
      Prometheus Educational Services - http://www.borg.com/~rparkany/
      Upper Hudson & Mohawk Valleys; New York State, USA
    • Channing Hillway, Ph.D.
      Natilene: You re on uncertain ground, here. Obviously you d be doing survey research reaching subjects by mail -- in this case e-mail and you also suggested
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 1, 1999
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        Natilene:

        You're on uncertain ground, here.
        Obviously you'd be doing survey research reaching subjects by mail -- in this case e-mail and you also suggested the use of chat rooms.
        Chat rooms can be secure, relatively speaking, so that only people with the address know to get into them. Once someone knows the address of a chat room, that person would be able to access it repeatedly and would be able to view the exchange of other persons using the chatroom. You could set up a separate chat room for each subject. Using the chat room as an interview medium would mean foregoing the visual input of subject reactions that often leads to asking pertinent questions, providing the interview is open ended. If the interview is standardized then it
        would still be a consideration, but a lesser one in my view. Usually interviews would be used to gather data in the early stage to guide the development of standardized items on a questionnaire. Whether it is important to conduct the interviews in person will depend on the nature of the research and the views of your doctoral chair.
        E-mail is secure, relatively, if one sends it only to one person. The wrong person could be responding, but that is also a problem with postal mail. Determined programmers and hackers can get into e-mail and view it, but how likely is it that they would know to or want to get into it. Using encryption can help, providing both parties are using e-mail (Netscape, Internet Explorer) program versions that share the same encryption capability. If you could set up one e-mail station used by all of the subjects they could be identified by a number and remain anonymous
        because the address of the station would always be the same, as opposed to personal e-mail, except when other subjects observed them at the station, which would be a problem or not depending on the focus of the research (people with AIDS could be a problem).
        Bottom line is that if your committee chair or other committee members are uncomfortable with electronic media data collection, just quietly agree to drop the idea. Getting done is more important than doing it your way.

        Best wishes,

        Channing

        --
        Channing Hillway, Ph.D.
        ARISTARCUS COMMUNICATION
        � Organizational Systems & Policy, Interpersonal Communication,
        Conflict Resolution, Problem Solving & Leveraging
        � Educational & Informational Multimedia Productions
        � Organizational Development & Grant writing for NPOs & NGOs
        Post Office Box 5329, Ventura CA USA
        channing@...

        Natilene Bowker wrote:

        > From: Natilene Bowker <Natilene.Bowker.1@...>
        >
        > Hello all,
        >
        > I'm currently considering application to a Human Ethics Committee for my Phd research, where data will largely be collected via on-line interviews conducted on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), through private chatrooms and possibly over email. I know that the ethics committee will want to know whether I can guarantee anonymity and confidentiality for interviewees. I'm not sure if I can due to nature of the on-line medium, such as the potential for someone with enough knowledge to gain access to a private chatroom, and the insecurity of information passed through email.
        >
        > I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has dealt with ethics in relation to carrying out data collection on-line, particularly on-line interviews. How did you go about dealing with ethics? Did you take any measures to lessen lack of information security on-line?There may be other issues as well in relation to carrying out data collection on-line that I may not have thought about.
        >
        > Regards, Natilene.
        >
        > PhD Student
        > School of Psychology
        > Massey University
        > Private Bag 11-222
        > Palmerston North
        > Ph. (hm) +64 06 355 3693
        >
        > -
      • Camille Pierce
        Channing Hillway, Ph.D. said. ... That is an extremely dangerous obersavation IMO Dr. Hillway. True, when we apply to and are accepted
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 2, 1999
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          "Channing Hillway, Ph.D." <channing@...> said.
          > Bottom line is that if your committee chair or other committee members
          >are uncomfortable with electronic media data collection, just quietly
          >agree to drop the idea. Getting done is more important than doing it your
          >way.

          That is an extremely dangerous obersavation IMO Dr. Hillway. True, when we
          apply to and are accepted into graduate school, their are certain rules, if
          not some ethical principles we must adhere to. However, I *strongly*
          disagree with your assertion that if in order for a student to graduate
          they forgo any original ideas and mentally adapt themselves to what their
          advisors would like to see. Thus, a total loss of self, perhaps, and any
          individual thoughts students might have. Yes, any legitimate scholastic
          degree is important. However, at the expense of one's personal thoughts and
          beliefs?? If students forgo thinking for themselves in school, then will
          they, in your opinion, simply go by books and not their personal insight?
          In turn, losing any creativity/originality they have developed in their
          formative years?

          Camille
        • Storm King
          ... I have an article in that issue that I can send you if you think it might help. King, S. A. (1996). Researching Internet communities: Proposed ethical
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 6, 1999
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            "����� ���" wrote:

            > The following source should help you with your dilemma
            >
            > Thomas, J. (1996). Introduction: A debate about the ethics of fair
            > practices for collecting social science data in Cyberspace. The
            > Information Society, 12(2), 107-117

            I have an article in that issue that I can send you if you think it might help.

            King, S. A. (1996). Researching Internet communities: Proposed ethical guidelines for the reporting of the results. The Information Society, 12, 2, 119-127

            Just write me personally at astorm@...
            --
            Storm A. King astorm@...
            ICQ# 2490493 "stormpsych" on AOL instant messenger

            The Psychology of Virtual Communities; research resources
            and articles on online therapy and online self-help groups: http://www.concentric.net/~Astorm/

            The International Society for Mental Health Online: http://www.ismho.org/
          • Storm King
            ... I have to agree with Camille on this. i got luck at my school, as my advisor was head of the IRB and very net knowledgeable. There was a recent workshop
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 6, 1999
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              Camille Pierce wrote:
              >
              > From: Camille Pierce <scholar@...>
              >
              > "Channing Hillway, Ph.D." <channing@...> said.
              > > Bottom line is that if your committee chair or other committee members
              > >are uncomfortable with electronic media data collection, just quietly
              > >agree to drop the idea. Getting done is more important than doing it your
              > >way.
              >
              > That is an extremely dangerous obersavation IMO Dr. Hillway.

              I have to agree with Camille on this. i got luck at my school, as my advisor was head of the IRB and very net knowledgeable. There was a recent workshop that addressed the ethical issues of cyberspace research with human subjects. The report from this workshop will be included in the next edition of the guidebook that the NIH send out to IRB's nationwide. see http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/sfrl/projects/intres/main.htm for the report of the workshop agenda, and watch that cyberspace for the forthcoming final report soon.

              --
              Storm A. King astorm@...
              ICQ# 2490493 "stormpsych" on AOL instant messenger

              The Psychology of Virtual Communities; research resources
              and articles on online therapy and online self-help groups: http://www.concentric.net/~Astorm/

              The International Society for Mental Health Online: http://www.ismho.org/
            • Channing Hillway, Ph.D.
              Camille: It is wise and extremely realistic to think of earning the doctorate as a rite of passage where one must do a certain amount of sucking up in order to
              Message 6 of 12 , Sep 6, 1999
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                Camille:

                It is wise and extremely realistic to think of earning the doctorate as a rite of passage where one must do
                a certain amount of sucking up in order to pass on into the realm of greater possibilities. A graduate student
                insisting on the right to originality is likely to take a somewhat longer time to complete the degree on most
                campuses.
                There is always a good deal of discussion about making the doctoral program meaningful and as an opportunity
                for the doctoral candidate to make a mark. It does happen and I'm not discouraging that. I am emphasizing that
                that the system works as it does, with a diversity of manifestations on the various campuses on the face of the
                planet. Some faculty will strongly encourage originality; and the majority won't. Faculty worked hard to get
                into their positions and tend to feel that they own them. Quite a few also seem to feel a sense of ownership of
                their graduate students.
                Choose the campus and the committee chair carefully, learn the politics and avoid going against the biases
                of the committee chair and the committee members. And then do whatever is necessary to get done, within reason.
                The people who get done fastest are usually those who replicate a study someone else has already done.
                Insistence on originality takes its toll. Like it or not, that's the way the system works.

                Best wishes,

                Channing

                --
                Channing Hillway, Ph.D.
                ARISTARCUS COMMUNICATION
                � Organizational Systems & Policy, Interpersonal Communication,
                Conflict Resolution, Problem Solving & Leveraging
                � Educational & Informational Multimedia Productions
                � Organizational Development & Grant writing for NPOs & NGOs
                Post Office Box 5329, Ventura CA USA
                channing@...

                Camille Pierce wrote:

                > From: Camille Pierce <scholar@...>
                >
                > "Channing Hillway, Ph.D." <channing@...> said.
                > > Bottom line is that if your committee chair or other committee members
                > >are uncomfortable with electronic media data collection, just quietly
                > >agree to drop the idea. Getting done is more important than doing it your
                > >way.
                >
                > That is an extremely dangerous obersavation IMO Dr. Hillway. True, when we
                > apply to and are accepted into graduate school, their are certain rules, if
                > not some ethical principles we must adhere to. However, I *strongly*
                > disagree with your assertion that if in order for a student to graduate
                > they forgo any original ideas and mentally adapt themselves to what their
                > advisors would like to see. Thus, a total loss of self, perhaps, and any
                > individual thoughts students might have. Yes, any legitimate scholastic
                > degree is important. However, at the expense of one's personal thoughts and
                > beliefs?? If students forgo thinking for themselves in school, then will
                > they, in your opinion, simply go by books and not their personal insight?
                > In turn, losing any creativity/originality they have developed in their
                > formative years?
                >
                > Camille
              • cyberdiva
                Natalie, I can t say i faced this with any ethics committee, but I faced some of these concerns from subjects . With regard to issues related to human
                Message 7 of 12 , Sep 7, 1999
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                  Natalie,

                  I can't say i faced this with any ethics committee, but I faced some of
                  these concerns from "subjects" .

                  With regard to issues related to human subjects review committee etc. -
                  which I face in relation to my ongoing research in my classroom use of
                  Internet technologies - I think most of it is just routine paperwork - if
                  you are not targetting a socially (etc - ly) vulnerable group of people,it
                  shouldn't be a problem to get approval. I agree with rick ...in a general
                  way.

                  Other issues regarding your accountability to the "community" and/or
                  community, to values, ethical issues that are not dealt with by just doing
                  paperwork - these are theoretical/personal/professional issues you need to
                  work out in relation to your subjects and dissertation committee. I *do*
                  think if you present an *argument* for why you are doing something, your
                  committee will be reasonable - if they are not reasonable, perhaps you are
                  working with the "wrong" dissertation committee - i don't know how you
                  choose committee members (or *if* you choose) them in your University, but
                  nowadays, a lot more flexibility (but you need to give a "good" argument -
                  *frame* it well - rhetorically position yourself and negotiate the beliefs
                  of your committee members:))is possible within certain (maybe elite)
                  Academic institution than perhaps some years ago.

                  this from my limited experience.

                  good luck,
                  radhika





                  >From: Rick Parkany <rparkany@...>
                  >
                  >Natilene: I am conducting similar research for my dissertation @
                  >SUNYAlbany. I teach on-line courses and submitted my research proposal to
                  >the IRB. In the proposal, I enumerated the protocol for participation
                  >which enumerated the machines and media on which I would store the
                  >material. I used the typical means to ensure such rights by coding
                  >pseudonyms, etc. They approved the study.
                  >
                  >*Locks only keep out honest people* is a phrase I learned a long time ago.
                  >Neither you nor anyone else is a guarantor against the fraud perpetrated
                  >by someone else. There are laws that seek to punish those elements. IMHO
                  >professional ethics require YOU to provide all reasonable means to ensure
                  >the rights of participants. IF you choose to go beyond these APA or other
                  >professional ethical goals, this is commendable, but, IMHO, not necessary.
                  >At any rate, they will not excoriate you if they have concerns, nor will
                  >they disapprove of your study, unless they are
                  >unethical. What they will do is what you would wish: they will give you
                  >explicit instructions on how to *come up to code and specs*.
                  >
                  >Good luck and keep in touch... ;-} rap.

                  >
                  >Natilene Bowker wrote:
                  >
                  >> From: Natilene Bowker <Natilene.Bowker.1@...>
                  >>
                  >> Hello all,
                  >>
                  >> I'm currently considering application to a Human Ethics Committee for my
                  >>Phd research, where data will largely be collected via on-line interviews
                  >>conducted on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), through private chatrooms and
                  >>possibly over email. I know that the ethics committee will want to know
                  >>whether I can guarantee anonymity and confidentiality for interviewees.
                  >>I'm not sure if I can due to nature of the on-line medium, such as the
                  >>potential for someone with enough knowledge to gain access to a private
                  >>chatroom, and the insecurity of information passed through email.
                  >>
                  >> I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has dealt with
                  >>ethics in relation to carrying out data collection on-line, particularly
                  >>on-line interviews. How did you go about dealing with ethics? Did you
                  >>take any measures to lessen lack of information security on-line?There
                  >>may be other issues as well in relation to carrying out data collection
                  >>on-line that I may not have thought about.
                  >>
                  >> Regards, Natilene.
                  >>
                  >> PhD Student
                  >> School of Psychology
                  >> Massey University
                  >> Private Bag 11-222
                  >> Palmerston North
                  >> Ph. (hm) +64 06 355 3693
                  >>
                  >> --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                  >>
                  >> ONElist: the best place to EXPLORE topics, SHARE ideas, and
                  >> CONNECT to people with the same interests.
                  >>
                  >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  >> Please Visit Cybersoc (http://www.cybersoc.com) and Cybersociology
                  >>Magazine (http://www.cybersociology.com).
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >--
                  >"Dein Wachstum sei feste und lache vor Lust!
                  >Deines Herzens Trefflichkeit / hat dir selbst das Feld bereit',
                  >auf dem du bluehen musst." Peasant, Richard A. Parkany: SUNY@Albany
                  >Prometheus Educational Services - http://www.borg.com/~rparkany/
                  >Upper Hudson & Mohawk Valleys; New York State, USA
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >--------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
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                  >Show your ONElist SPIRIT!
                  ><a href=" http://clickme.onelist.com/ad/tshirt2 ">Click Here</a>
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                  >------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  >Please Visit Cybersoc (http://www.cybersoc.com) and Cybersociology
                  >Magazine (http://www.cybersociology.com).



                  Radhika Gajjala

                  Info on lists and archives of lists available at
                  http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/~spoons
                  email: rad@...
                  URL: http://www.cyberdiva.org

                  and/or http://ernie.bgsu.edu/~radhik
                • Channing Hillway, Ph.D.
                  Storm: See my response to Camille in which I take into account situations such as your own. Camille s assertion that my observation is dangerous seems a bit
                  Message 8 of 12 , Sep 8, 1999
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                    Storm:

                    See my response to Camille in which I take into account situations such as your own. Camille's assertion that my observation is "dangerous" seems a bit passionate. And that is, of course, the problem. Dispassionate is the way in which we conduct our research and working with the community of scholars -- as they exist -- is just the way the game is played.
                    You, Storm (interesting name), have a chair that is very much attuned to research on line. Great. You will be able to proceed in that vein and work within the system as it exists in your experience. Some others will have the same experience while many others will not.

                    Best wishes,

                    Channing

                    --
                    Channing Hillway, Ph.D.
                    ARISTARCUS COMMUNICATION
                    � Organizational Systems & Policy, Interpersonal Communication,
                    Conflict Resolution, Problem Solving & Leveraging
                    � Educational & Informational Multimedia Productions
                    � Organizational Development & Grant writing for NPOs & NGOs
                    Post Office Box 5329, Ventura CA USA
                    channing@...

                    Storm King wrote:

                    > From: Storm King <astorm@...>
                    >
                    > Camille Pierce wrote:
                    > >
                    > > From: Camille Pierce <scholar@...>
                    > >
                    > > "Channing Hillway, Ph.D." <channing@...> said.
                    > > > Bottom line is that if your committee chair or other committee members
                    > > >are uncomfortable with electronic media data collection, just quietly
                    > > >agree to drop the idea. Getting done is more important than doing it your
                    > > >way.
                    > >
                    > > That is an extremely dangerous obersavation IMO Dr. Hillway.
                    >
                    > I have to agree with Camille on this. i got luck at my school, as my advisor was head of the IRB and very net knowledgeable. There was a recent workshop that addressed the ethical issues of cyberspace research with human subjects. The report from this workshop will be included in the next edition of the guidebook that the NIH send out to IRB's nationwide. see http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/sfrl/projects/intres/main.htm for the report of the workshop agenda, and watch that cyberspace for the forthcoming final report soon.
                    >
                    > --
                    > Storm A. King astorm@...
                    > ICQ# 2490493 "stormpsych" on AOL instant messenger
                    >
                  • John Suler
                    ... into their positions and tend to feel that they own them. Quite a few also seem to feel a sense of ownership of their graduate students. Choose the campus
                    Message 9 of 12 , Sep 12, 1999
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                      >>Some faculty will strongly encourage originality; and the majority won't.
                      >>Faculty worked hard to get
                      into their positions and tend to feel that they own them. Quite a few also
                      seem to feel a sense of ownership of their graduate students. Choose the
                      campus and the committee chair carefully, learn the politics and avoid
                      going against the biases of the committee chair and the committee members.
                      And then do whatever is necessary to get done, within reason. The people
                      who get done fastest are usually those who replicate a study someone else
                      has already done. Insistence on originality takes its toll. Like it or not,
                      that's the way the system works.<<

                      For those of you who are graduate students, this is VERY wise advice. Many
                      older faculty members have very little experience with the internet and
                      cyber-studies, and are skeptical. If you are dedicated and willing to put
                      up with frustration, you can choose to do research about the
                      internet....but it will probably be an uphill climb for you. On the
                      positive side.... the times they are a changin'

                      -John


                      ______________________
                      John Suler, Ph.D.
                      Professor of Psychology
                      Rider University
                      suler@...

                      Teaching Clinical Psychology:
                      http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/tcp.html

                      The Psychology of Cyberspace:
                      http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/psycyber/psycyber.html

                      Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors:
                      http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/zenstory/zenstory.html
                      __________________________________________________
                    • P. ten Have
                      Hi, The current discussion on this topic displays a wide range of positions, some of which I find quite shocking in their conformism pays cynicism. I would
                      Message 10 of 12 , Sep 14, 1999
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                        Hi,

                        The current discussion on this topic displays a wide range of positions,
                        some of which I find quite shocking in their 'conformism pays' cynicism. I
                        would uphold that any academic should put arguments first, which entails
                        the obligation to honestly consider any student's argumentation.

                        But more to the point of online interviewing itself, I would recommend
                        reading Annette N. Markham's wonderful & fascinating book: Life Online:
                        Researching Real Experience in Virtual Space. Walnut Creek/London/New
                        DelhiL AltaMira Press, 1998 ISBN 0761990305 (cloth) 0761990313 (pbk) It's
                        vol 6 in the Ethnographic Alternatives Series and offers vivid accounts of
                        what it takes to do, analyze & report on online interviews.

                        Best, Paul


                        Paul ten Have, Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology,
                        Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam
                        Oude Hoogstraat 24, 1012 CA Amsterdam, the Netherlands
                        Voice: +31 20 525 2250, Fax: +31 20 525 2179, Home voice: +31 20 690 9038
                        Ethno/CA News at: http://pscw.uva.nl/emca/index.htm
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