Ethics and Information Technology 4 (3):205-216 (2002)

As Internet resources are usedmore frequently for research on social andpsychological behavior, concerns grow aboutwhether characteristics of such research affecthuman subjects protections. Early efforts toaddress such concerns have done more toidentify potential problems than to evaluatethem or to seek solutions, leaving bodiescharged with human subjects oversight in aquagmire. This article critiques some of theseissues in light of the US Code of FederalRegulations' policies for the Protection ofHuman Subjects, and argues that some of theissues have no pertinence when examined in thecontext of common methodological approachesthat previous commentators failed to consider. By separating applicable contexts from thosethat are not, and by identifying cases wheresubjects' characteristics are irrelevant and/orimpossible to provide, oversight committees maybe able to consider research applications moreappropriately, and investigators may be lessethically bound to ascertain and demonstratethose characteristics.
Keywords human subjects research  identity  informed consent  institutional review boards  Internet research  qualitative/quantitative  research methods
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1021368426115
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