The internet has changed the way people operate on a day to day basis. Through the use of computers and smart phones, people can search anything from anywhere in the internet. However, the use of the Internet affects the research process.
First, when using internet for research, one lacks control over the test setting. The researcher cannot know whether the participant is real is real or is a persona. In addition, the researcher cannot determine whether the environment is suitable for completing the survey. There is no authenticity in online data given that the data is from unknown people whose authenticity is not also known. A major source of research data used by people is secondary data. This is data from already existing and achieved data (Williams, 2012). A good example is the use of emails to conduct research. It may be unethical to use such data in research since the participants might have given more personal data without knowing it was to be used in research. In addition, when conducting research online, implied consent is not the ethical way of acquiring consent.
In research, the participants in most cases must be 18 years or more of age, otherwise the consent must be acquired from the parent. In online research, the researcher cannot determine the age of the participant. Asking the age of the participant does not guarantee that the participant will tell the truth. Engaging a minor in research is very unethical. Institutions like colleges usually collect social media data and use it for research (Williams, 2012). In most cases, the social media users do not give consent for their information to be used. In addition, the social media users may be underage. The use of this data is unethical.
Williams, S. G. (June 2012). The Ethics of Internet Research. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 16 (2), Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=1708
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