Workshop: Ethical Internet Research: Challenges and (re)solutions

The Centre for Research on Media Innovations at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, invites national and international researchers from a range of disciplines – including media and communication studies, sociology, philosophy, and political science – to participate in this interdisciplinary workshop.

The workshop Programme has now been finalised.

Organiser and Main Contributor: Charles Ess, Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo

Guest Contributor: Marika Lüders, Research Scientist, SINTEF, Oslo

Internet Research Ethics has been an active field of study for twenty years, leading to a significant body of research and empirical case-studies that can be drawn on to inform ethical research practice.  However, during this time, the sustained rapid development of the Internet and associated technologies and devices, and social practices and interaction with these objects, has led to an increased complexity in the nature and level of ethical decision-making required.  A corresponding lag in legislative and ethical guidance, with the notable exception of the AoIR (2.0) draft guidelines, increases the complexity of the situation.  This workshop aims to examine current cases in Internet research and to assess whether, taking a pluralistic approach to the ethical issues faced, a set of guiding norms can be established from which to work towards case-specific solutions.

The Workshop will examine (a) the nature of ethical judgments; and, (b) the primary principles at work in Internet research, particularly as these rest on conceptions of identity, ethical agency and responsibility, and ownership (i.e., of one’s texts and other creative expressions).

The mutual interaction between ethics and methodology will also be discussed, with particular focus on the ethical issues surrounding participant-observation methodology.

Finally, the AoIR ethical guidelines 2.0 will be discussed, specifically with regard to their practical application to:
(A) the status of data (public? private? …?) provided in social networking profiles and correlative ethical requirements for researchers, and
(B) “dissemination ethics” and informed consent, especially with regard to profile data and blog posts.

Provisional Schedule:

12.00: Lunch
12.15: Charles Ess - Ethical Internet Research: Challenges and (re)solutions
13.00: Marika Lüders – Ethical Internet Research in Practice
13.30: Break
13.45: Working Groups
14.30: Reporting from Working Groups to Workshop
15.15: General Discussion
15.45: Concluding Remarks and Future Research Directions
16.00: Close

Maximum Number of Participants:
The workshop is open to all researchers, however there are a maximum of 15 places.

If PhD candidates participate they will be awarded 1 ECTS, depending on the submission of an abstract in advance of 19 October 2012 and on a presentation and full participation during the workshop.


Researchers interested in participating in the workshop are requested to submit an abstract, outlining the particular ethical concerns they wish to discuss, to by Friday, 19 October 2012.  The abstracts will be reviewed by the organisers with a view to determining which will make the most significant contribution to the workshop.  Places will be confirmed by Friday, 2 November 2012.  If you are not successful in obtaining a place in the workshop, we may have a limited number of places for people to attend, provide feedback to the projects that will be discussed, and participate in the general discussion.  Please express whether this would interest you when submitting your abstract.

Important Dates:

19 October 2012: Submission of Abstracts

2 November 2012: Notification of Decision, Circulation of additional Reading Material

19 November 2012: Workshop

Workshop Readings:

AoIR Ethics Working Committee (2012) Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research (version 2.0) Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working
Ess, C. (2009) Digital Media Ethics: Digital Media and Society Series Cambridge: Polity Press
Markham, A. and Baym, N. (2009) Internet Inquiry: conversations about method London: Sage
McKee, H. and Porter, J. (2009) The Ethics of Internet Research: A Rhetorical, Case-Based Process New York, Peter Lang
NESH (2006) Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Law and the Humanities Oslo: De nasjonale forskningsetiske komiteer
NESH (2003) Research Ethics Guidelines for Internet Research Available Online at:

Additional reading materials will be distributed to all participants by Friday, 2 November 2012.


Niamh Ní Bhroin, PhD Candidate, Department of Media and Communication

Terje Colbjørnsen, PhD Candidate, Department of Media and Communication

The Workshop is hosted by the Centre for Research on Media Innovations



Published Sep. 26, 2012 4:47 PM - Last modified Aug. 30, 2019 2:12 PM