A psychologist who conducts qualitative research on social support and major life stresses is interested in how parents cope with the death of a young child. He decides to research the use of Internet sources of support. Posing as a parent who has recently lost a child, he subscribes to several lists and participates in discussions in several chat rooms. He prints postings and discussions for his data analyses and quotes from these transcripts in his publications. What ethical concerns exist? What additional issues arise if the psychologist harvests the lists, not as a participant, but by accessing archives?
A major issue is is deception. The researcher is misleading participants about who he is. They have no idea that they are not talking with someone who is going through the same experience as they are. This is an issue because they may respond very differently to a researcher than they would to a parent with whom they are comiserating. Ethical regulations require that deception only be used if it is a) necessary, b) will cause no more harm than if it were not used, and c) if participants would not be very ...
Explains ethical issues in online research with humans without informed consent.