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Conducting research in social media discourse: Ethical challenges

posted on 2023-05-22, 14:39 authored by Sun JangSun Jang, Rosemary CallinghamRosemary Callingham

In recent years, social media have become more pervasive and even the name itself has become ubiquitous. This growth has largely taken place on the assumption that a significant turning point for the evolving social media was triggered by the advance of the second generation of the Web, commonly known as Web 2.0. To understand the unprecedented growing manifestations and the eager adoption of social media, a number of researchers across disciplines and nations, who have turned their attention to Web 2.0 social media research, have discussed two main strands of possibilities and challenges in conducting research in these social media settings. Despite numerous opportunities for them to access rich user-created contents and diverse online cultures, researchers are confronted with a considerable number of ethical issues and challenges. Internet research ethics is not a new topic, but ambiguity, uncertainty and disagreement about ethical issues exist.

This chapter suggests that these ethical issues and challenges cannot be easily solved within traditional ethical frameworks and approaches. Rather, in the ethical conduct of Web 2.0 social media research, researchers require an effective integration of three important ingredients in practice: theoretical frameworks, researchers' epistemological standpoints, and a research toolkit consisting of refined codes of ethics, online research strategies and approaches, and risk scale tools. In order to offer an efficient guide for researchers, teachers and students, when using social media applications as a research field or tool, this chapter provides a triangular ethical framework developed for the above three identified important aspects and also a risk scale tool as to be practically neccessary for researchers' acts, research contexts, participants' acts, and data content. This chapter will be of interest to online researchers and people at the managerial level alike, particularly those who consider ethics and copyright policies in online settings.


Publication title

Conducting Research in a Changing and Challenging World


T Le & Q Le






Faculty of Education


Nova Science Publishers

Place of publication

New York



Rights statement

Copyright 2013 Nova Science Publishers Inc.

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