Scholars are exhilarated by the prospect of tapping into the vast troves of personal data collected by Facebook, Google, Amazon and a host of start-ups, which they say could transform social science research.
Once forced to conduct painstaking personal interviews with subjects, scientists can now sit at a screen and instantly play with the digital experiences of millions of Internet users. It’s the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.
“This is a new era,” said Jeffrey T. Hancock, a Cornell University professor of communication and information science. “I liken it a little bit to when chemistry got the microscope.”
But the new era has brought some controversy with it. Professor Hancock was a co-author of the Facebook study in which the social network quietly manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people to learn how the changes affected their emotions. When the research was published in June, the outrage was immediate.
Now Professor Hancock and other university and corporate researchers are grappling with how to create ethical guidelines for this kind of research. In his first interview since the Facebook study was made public, Professor Hancock said he would help develop such guidelines by leading a series of discussions among academics, corporate researchers and government agencies like the National Science Foundation.
“As part of moving forward on this, we’ve got to engage,” he said. “This is a giant societal conversation that needs to take place.”
The Latest on: Social science research ethics
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The Latest on: Social science research ethics
- Book Review: Research Ethics in the Real World by Helen Karaon July 21, 2019 at 2:13 am
and the social sciences more broadly, are inherently context- and value-sensitive. While Research Ethics in the Real World is intended – and ideal – for an introductory class on research ethics, it ... […]
- Building the case for actionable ethics in digital health research supported by artificial intelligenceon July 16, 2019 at 4:39 pm
Ethics regulation in social computing research ... Bloss C, Nebeker C, Bietz M, Bae D, Bigby B, Devereaux M, et al. Reimagining human research protections for 21st century science. J Med Internet Res. ... […]
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- AI and the Social Sciences Used to Talk More. Now They’ve Drifted Apart.on July 1, 2019 at 11:39 am
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- The Ethics of Conducting Social-Science Research on the Interneton June 4, 2019 at 5:45 pm
Over the past four or five years, the amount of social-science research conducted on the Internet has increased exponentially. More than 100 World-Wide Web sites now invite visitors to participate in ... […]
- Research Ethics in Social Sciences: Online Data Gathering and Big Data Analysison February 5, 2019 at 4:19 am
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- Embedding ethics in computer science curriculumon January 28, 2019 at 5:42 am
Embedding ethics across the curriculum helps computer science students see how ethical issues can arise from many contexts, issues ranging from the way social networks facilitate ... a senior ... […]
- University Data Science Programs Turn to Ethics and the Humanitieson January 11, 2019 at 4:18 am
The program has courses one would expect of a data science program: programming, statistics and research methods. And it also includes courses on subjects like philosophy and ethics of information, ... […]
- Why is ethics in social science research so vital?on November 23, 2018 at 8:43 am
Ethics are rules of moral right and wrong actions. While most people agree on ethics such as "murder is wrong," a gray area comes into play when beliefs about abortion are brought up. When dealing ... […]
- Social Science One And How Top Journals View The Ethics Of Facebook Data Researchon August 13, 2018 at 11:00 am
Over the past decade and a half, Facebook and its social brethren have rushed to connect the world, rushed to commercialize our private data and now are rushing to make our most sensitive information ... […]
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