Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 233–247 | Cite as

Ethics of Internet research: Contesting the human subjects research model

  • Elizabeth H. Bassett
  • Kate O'Riordan


The human subjects researchmodel is increasingly invoked in discussions ofethics for Internet research. Here we seek toquestion the widespread application of thismodel, critiquing it through the two themes ofspace and textual form. Drawing on ourexperience of a previous piece ofresearch, we highlightthe implications of re-considering thetextuality of the Internet in addition to thespatial metaphors that are more commonlydeployed to describe Internet activity. Weargue that the use of spatial metaphors indescriptions of the Internet has shaped theadoption of the human subjects research model.Whilst this model is appropriate in some areasof Internet research such as emailcommunication, we feel that researchers, whennavigating the complex terrain of Internetresearch ethics, need also to consider theInternet as cultural production of texts.

community ethics human subjects Internet LGBT research space texts 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth H. Bassett
    • 1
  • Kate O'Riordan
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Information ManagementUniversity of Brighton, Lewes RoadMoulsecoomb, BrightonUK
  2. 2.Lecturer in Continuing Education (Media Studies), Arts C304, CCEUniversity of SussexFalmer BrightonUK

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