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Getting to Yes: Informed Consent in Qualitative Social Media Research

The Ethics of Online Research

ISBN: 978-1-78714-486-6, eISBN: 978-1-78714-485-9

Publication date: 12 December 2017


When a study involves human participants, researchers need to ensure their safety and protect their identities. How do potential participants know what they are agreeing to contribute, and how and why the research is being conducted? Informed consent describes the process and agreements that answer such questions. Conventional consent protocols focused on preresearch discussions between the researcher and the potential participant, resulting in a signed document that verified the agreement. In research conducted with, on, or through social media, there are fewer opportunities for conversational explanations of formal documents. Simply posting legalistic documents is ineffective because Internet users typically do not read such materials before verifying agreement. Researchers need to understand communities, contexts, and communication styles of target participants and settings in order to provide information in familiar, user-friendly ways. Based on a review of literature about informed consent, and a study of current practices used by companies that need to verify agreements online, practical research suggestions are offered. Qualitative researchers who want to collect data through active interactions with human participants will find these examples and recommendations of use when designing their studies.



Salmons, J. (2017), "Getting to Yes: Informed Consent in Qualitative Social Media Research", Woodfield, K. (Ed.) The Ethics of Online Research (Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity, Vol. 2), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 109-134.



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