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Ethical dilemmas in qualitative research with youth on/offline

Livingstone, Sonia and Locatelli, Elisabetta (2012) Ethical dilemmas in qualitative research with youth on/offline. International Journal of Learning and Media, 4 (2). pp. 67-75. ISSN 1943-6068

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Identification Number: 10.1162/IJLM_a_00096

Abstract

Research on the digital and online environment poses several ethical questions that are new or, at least, newly pressing, especially in relation to youth. Established ethical practices require that research has integrity, quality, transparency and impartiality. They also stipulate that risks to the researcher, institution, data and participants should be anticipated and addressed. But there are difficulties in applying these to an environment in which the online and offline intersect in shifting ways. This paper discusses some real-life ‘digital dilemmas’ to identify the emerging consensus among researchers. We note the 2012 guidelines by the Association of Internet Researchers, which advocates for ethical pluralism, for minimizing harm, and for the responsibility of the researcher where codes are insufficient. As a point of contrast, we evaluate Markham’s (2012) radical argument for data fabrication as an ethical practice. In reflecting on how researchers of the digital media practices of youth resolved their dilemmas in practice, we take up Markham’s challenge of identifying evolving practice, including researchers’ workarounds, but we eschew her solution of fabrication. Instead, we support the emerging consensus that while rich data is increasingly available for collection, it should not always be fully used or even retained in order to protect human subjects in a digital world in which future possible uses of data exceed the control of the researcher who collected them.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/
Additional Information: © 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 26 May 2015 14:24
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2015 11:33
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/62092

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