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Is It Time to Re-Evaluate the Ethics Governance of Social Media Research?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wasim Ahmed



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications, Inc., 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article reports on a U.K. workshop on social media research ethics held in May 2018. There were 10 expert speakers and an audience of researchers, research ethics committee members, and research institution representatives. Participants reviewed the current state of social media ethics, discussing well-rehearsed questions such as what needs consent in social media research, and how the public/private divide differs between virtual and real-life environments. The lack of answers to such questions was noted, along with the difficulties posed for ethical governance structures in general and the work of research ethics committees in particular. Discussions of these issues enabled the creation of two recommendations. The first is for research ethics committees and journal editors to add the category of ‘data subject research’ to the existing categories of ‘text research’ and ‘human subject research’. This would reflect the fact that social media research does not fall into either of the existing categories and so needs a category of its own. The second is that ethical issues should be considered at all stages of social media research, up to and including aftercare. This acknowledges that social media research throws up a large number of ethical issues throughout the process which, under current arrangements for ethical research governance, risks remaining unaddressed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Samuel G, Ahmed W, Kara H, Jessop C, Quinton S, Sanger S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 4

Pages: 452-454

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 24/08/2018

Acceptance date: 24/08/2018

Date deposited: 28/06/2019

ISSN (print): 1556-2646

ISSN (electronic): 1556-2654

Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.


DOI: 10.1177/1556264618793773


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