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Ethical challenges in internet research: Managing qualitative data from digital and social media communities

Thursday 1 June
online via Zoom

This is an interactive presentation, discussion and questions are welcome.

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About the seminar

Managing qualitative data from online platforms like social media, chats, and forums presents numerous ethical challenges for researchers. While there are some existing ethical guidelines for internet research, researchers continue to face difficult questions of how to establish values like anonymity, privacy, and consent in these ever-changing digital spaces.

This interactive and activity-driven seminar will present the audience with opportunities to discuss and reflect on everyday ethical dilemmas related to managing qualitative data from digital and social media communities.

Through a set of case studies, we will address several ethical questions: for instance, can we reasonably assume that users of public platforms like Twitter or Reddit give their consent for their data to be used in research? When can our research pose a risk to an online community, and when can an online community pose a risk to a researcher?

To encourage ethical awareness and consensus-building across disciplines, this seminar will share and invite discussion of potential solutions to the challenges researchers face in this space. Through this process of ethical engagement and deliberation, the goal of this seminar is to further discussion of how we can conduct internet research that is simultaneously ethical, high quality, and respectful of the communities we study.

About the speaker

Dr Lucy Sparrow is an Associate Lecturer in the School of Computing Information Systems, Faculty of Engineering and IT at the University of Melbourne. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on digital ethics, drawing from conceptual and methodological elements found in human-computer interaction, sociology, philosophy and game studies. Her current main research project examines ethical understandings and applications of human and AI moderation in online gaming communities.

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