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Markham, A., & Buchanan, E. (2017). Research Ethics in Context: Decision-Making in Digital Research. In M. T. Schäfer & K. Es (Eds.), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture through Data (pp. 201–209). Amsterdam University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9789048531011-017


In 2012, we published Ethical Decision-making and Internet Research, which consolidated the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Ethics Working Committee’s recommendations into a comprehensive document. In 2015, we revisited the subject with Internet Research: Ethical Concerns, which took a practical approach to internet research ethics by reviewing the work of other researchers in the field. With the article you are reading now, we attempt to reconcile the abstract and the practice-based methods of our previous two articles by unpacking ethical decision-making in view of principles. Digital media’s fast development, expansion and increasing integration into our day-to-day lives does not just mean opportunity but also new ethical challenges for internet researchers. Each new data set entails its own potential quandaries and insights. By placing other researchers’ work within AoIR guidelines, we seek to create a more cohesive framework to assist internet researchers, review boards, students and ethicists in ethically navigating the murky waters of internet research. Recent evolutions in our field, especially surrounding big data, have evolved quickly and still need to be addressed. The task ahead is to expand the more developed concepts and incorporate these new issues into the discussion. We do, however, feel confident that the core issue remains the same: understanding how and to what extent basic principles affect ethical decision-making.