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Dunkels, Elza & Enochsson, AnnBritt (2006): Online Interviews: Addressing Some Methodological and Ethical Issues. In Encyclopedia of Information Ethics and Security, Idea Group Reference.
The focus in this article is on online interviews, which is a special form of Internet research. In spite of different ethical codices, principles and guidelines, there are also grey areas where new ethical issues originate. Performing research on children’s activities on the Internet is one such new area where codices are not yet fully developed. Special ethical considerations are necessary when undertaking research on the Internet. In this article we discuss the advantages and disadvantages we have found when using this method with children and teenagers;
- What ethical and methodological issues are specific to online interviews?
- How can the method be developed further?
The article is based on experiences from three different research projects in which children and teenagers between the ages of 11 and 19 have been interviewed online, and it discusses some ethical and methodological problems concerning this method. The research projects’ aims were not to study the method as such, so the article is based on reflections made by the researchers during the process.
As new technologies make their way into our lives we fins new ways of using them and new problems arise. The ethical issues when interviewing online are mostly the same as when interviewing face-to-face, others are radically different. In this article we claim that the feeling of anonymity as well as the media debate on adult predators on the Internet makes it important to be extra cautious when contacting children online. Other issues dealt with are
- Net cultures
- Technical solutions
- Power structures
If proper tools are developed, this can make online interviewing easier and urge more researchers to try this method of investigation. If our interest is to find children’s and young people’s perspectives and talk to them at a level where power structures are diminished, online interviews are a good choice.