“INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The work represented in this document emerges from theoretical, empirical, and field research conducted by members of the Association of Internet Researchers, including members of the AoIR Ethics Working Group.
The first version of the AoIR Ethical Decision-Making document was released in 2002, after two years of international and cross-disciplinary collaboration. The document and its guidelines emerged from a series of extensive dialogues among experienced researchers facing and resolving ethical issues in internet research, philosophers, and other members of AoIR’s international, interdisciplinary community. The intention was to develop guidelines from the bottom up — i.e., out of the day-to-day practices of researchers in a wide range of disciplines, countries and contexts, in contrast to a more usual top-down approach that tries to provide a universal set of norms, principles, practices, and regulations. This approach was crucial because the enterprise of internet research is expansive — that is, globally informed — but also situated in innumerable locales. The 2002 document has subsequently received much use, and has been cited and used in a wide range of publications by a diverse number of disciplines. The AoIR Guidelines document has also been used by research ethics boards (REBs) and institutional review boards (IRBs) when making decisions about internet research-based protocols.1
Purpose and Audience
While the first AoIR document enjoyed extensive use, much has changed in the field of Internet Studies since 2002. The scope and contexts of internet research have been dramatically expanded through the continuing global diffusion of the internet into nearly every country in the world, as
facilitated through a growing array of devices (including game consoles, internet-enabled phones and other mobile devices) and ever-increasing bandwidth; rapidly expanding suites of new communication applications; and the increasingly seamless interweaving of online and offline activities and experiences. Alongside these developments, the literature of internet research ethics has grown considerably, providing us with a far more extensive range of theoretical resources and practical examples to help recognize and guide ethical reflection.”
Markham A and Buchanan E (2012) Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working Committee (Version 2.0). Available at: http://www.aoir.org/reports/ethics2.pdf (accessed 23 December 2013)
(Additional reading list item from the updated Booklet 37 of the Griffith University Research Ethics Manual. Perpetual licences are available for use by all researchers within an institution. Institutions have used the GUREM as the basis for producing their own research ethics manual, as a professional development resource and a teaching and learning materials for HDR candidates.)