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Internet research ethics and the policy gap for ethical practice in online research settings

A growing number of education and social science researchers design and conduct online research. In this review, the Internet Research Ethics (IRE) policy gap in Canada is identified along with the range of stakeholders and groups that either have a role or have attempted to play a role in forming better ethics policy. Ethical issues that current policy and guidelines fail to address are interrogated and discussed. Complexities around applying the human subject model to internet research are explored, such as issues of privacy, anonymity, and informed consent. The authors call for immediate action on the Canadian ethics policy gap and urge the research community to consider the situational, contextual, and temporal aspects of IRE in the development of flexible and responsive policies that address the complexity and diversity of internet research spaces.

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