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Guidelines for Online/Internet Research

While the principles which govern the ethical conduct of research in Canada (TCPS2) apply to all research (including online/internet research), the purpose of the following document is to provide guidelines, suggestions and issues to consider regarding the planning and carrying out of online/internet research more specifically. This document is not intended to provide answers to all potential ethical issues that may arise when conducting research. The use of the internet as a method for or as a source of data collection is becoming increasingly common among researchers. This new methodology presents several new challenges for researchers in their efforts to ensure conformity with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS). For example, researchers must consider who the “participant” is in the research, do you need consent and if so, from whom (e.g., the person of interest or all “people” that individual interacts with on the internet), issues related to privacy and the expectation of privacy, the potential for identification or harm if avatars or other alter-egos are used, and other considerations.

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