Ethics of Online Research in Russian and East European Studies
Start: Nov 21, 2012 12:00 AM
Location: University of Manchester
A postgraduate workshop organised by CEELBAS.
is carried out in a broad range of academic disciplines in the Humanities and
Social Sciences. With the increasing use of Internet as both an object and a
medium of research, the ethics of online research has become an important area
of scholarly concern.
The workshop was aimed at post-graduate researchers in Russian and East European Studies whose projects are based on an extensive use of Internet and the digital media. Its goals were to increase the awareness of PhD candidates of emerging approaches to addressing ethical issues of online research and to provide a forum in which post-graduate researchers in the field could learn about each other’s projects and discuss common concerns.
The materials here have been collated from the workshop participants in the hope that the issues addressed will be of use to other researchers in our field.
The keynote presentation by Dr. Helene Snee (Manchester) offered a
comprehensive overview of common challenges facing online researchers, with
particular focus on bloggers as both authors and subjects in research.
Authorship was also a powerful theme for Elisa Coati, whose study of literature
communities online showed blurred boundaries between professional and amateur
authors, writers and fans, and offline and online access to modern Russian
fiction: Read presentation and view slides.
Catherine Goodfellow’s study of Russian online gaming communities has
also brought up issues of boundaries, and specifically understanding the
difference between implicitly public and implicitly private material on forums
and blogs. Read presentation and view slides.
Her presentation also shared with Tanya Zaharchenko’s work on
cultural memory in Ukraine a preoccupation with the role of the researcher as
both academic and community participant. Tanya also precipitated some
fascinating discussion about the difficulty of researching politically and
emotionally charged topics via online media which do not always effectively
transmit tone. View slides.
Piotr Goldstein’s submission was
more concerned with methodology; his presentation outlined the difficulties
inherent in working with disparate non-governmental groups in Serbia and Bosnia
and Herzegovina. As Piotr reminded us, the use of online methods can be a
hindrance in cases where access to the Internet and a formal online presence
are not common. View slides.
On the same practical note, Iryna Clark delivered a few words about the technical issues prevalent when working with ‘big data’, showing that there can be significant unintended consequences when using automated data capture methods. Her experience of an automated script being marked as hostile by news websites segued into a discussion of researcher safety and privacy when working on the notoriously virus- and malware-heavy RuNet.
This was the fourth event in the series of postgraduate research ethics workshops launched by CEELBAS in 2009. View details of previous workshops.