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Field Studies of Interactive Technologies for Marginalized Users: A Canadian Ethics Policy Perspective

  • Cosmin MunteanuEmail author
  • Stephanie Sadownik
Chapter

Abstract

Human–computer interaction (HCI) is increasingly employing fieldwork to evaluate and study emerging technologies (e.g. mobile devices, digital assistants) or new contexts of use (e.g. vulnerable or digitally marginalized users). This has posed new ethical dilemmas for the researchers designing and conducting them, such as unplanned participation in research by caregivers; discovery of substandard professional conditions at the fieldwork site; research site collaborators indirectly accessing materials that may expose the privacy of vulnerable participants. The presence of such dilemmas and the difficulty anticipating ethical traps during fieldwork has often made the increasingly formal ethics review process more difficult. We present here a synthesis of case studies of interactive technologies for marginalized users, aiming to provide researchers and practitioners with additional sources of guidance as they tackle ethical dilemmas in conducting techno-centric fieldwork with marginalized users such as older adults. We argue that the core source of these dilemmas is often not the disruptive nature of these technologies, nor their deployment in sensitive settings. Instead, we offer a policy-based interpretation of these case studies along dimensions that highlight methodological challenges facing HCI researchers that transcend the specificity of the deployed technologies, and discuss lessons learned as applicable to the practice of HCI fieldwork with marginalized users in general and older adults in particular.

Keywords

Research ethics Human–computer interaction Fieldwork Marginalized users Older adults Ethical conduct of research with human participants 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology, University of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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