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Quinton, S., & Reynolds, N. (2017). The Changing Roles of Researchers and Participants in Digital and Social Media Research: Ethics Challenges and Forward Directions. In K. Woodfield (Ed.), The Ethics of Online Research (pp. 53–78). Emerald Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2398-601820180000002003


The purpose of this chapter is to situate how the digitalized research environment is changing the roles of researchers and participants, and how these changes lead to more complex and less discrete ethics challenges. Incorporating contemporary examples from the social sciences, we outline the core challenges of the changing research landscape that embrace both research actors (researcher, participant, and research users) and data issues. The ethical implications related to research actors’ roles are discussed by considering how data is accessed, how people can now participate in research, and issues related to accessing participants. Digital data and associated ethical issues are explored through examining authorship and ownership, how digital data is produced, and how research transparency can be achieved. Following on from this consideration of research actors and data issues, we suggest which challenges have been re-contextualized by the digital environment, and which are novel to the digital research context, outlining six practical yet reflective questions for researchers to ask as a way to navigate ethics in the digital research territory.