ETHIC

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CASES DRAWN FROM
Merle Spriggs. Case Studies Understanding Consent in Research Involving Children: The Ethical Issues. The Murdoch Children’s Centre
CASE 2
Consent issues in research involving Facebook
Sixteen-year-old Sophie has chosen the option to set her Facebook profile to public viewing. She has filled in the ‘about me’, and ‘I’d like to meet’ areas of her profile and has included requests to ‘E-mail me’. Her profile is intentionally constructed in the hope of receiving feedback from those who view it. A researcher is conducting a study on bullying at school and young people’s experience of it. He is recruiting and collecting data via the internet from children and young people aged 12 to 16. In the first stage of the study he proposes to collect data from what is posted on Sophie’s Facebook site without Sophie’s consent and without parental consent. In the second stage of the study, the researcher plans to post/email questions for Sophie to answer i.e. to generate new data. The researcher will sign up as Sophie’s friend and then, if accepted, will post questions for her to answer, without making clear that this is research.
Questions: First stage of project:

  1. Is Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval needed?
  2. Can the researcher use content from Sophie’s Facebook profile without Sophie’s consent?
  3. Can the researcher use the potentially identifiable content on the basis of Sophie’s consent alone without parental consent?
  4. If parental consent is deemed necessary but logistically difficult to obtain, can the researcher wait for 15 months until Sophie turns 18 and then use the data without parental consent but with Sophie’s consent?

Second stage of project:

  1. For the second stage of the study, is Sophie’s electronic acceptance of the researcher as a ‘friend’ equivalent to consent? Is it enough consent? What should the researcher disclose?
  2. Is parental consent needed for the second stage of the study?

 
 
 
First Stage

  1. Is Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval needed?

The researcher should not need the approval of the Human Research Ethics Committee because the information to be collected about Sophie is already in the public domain.  However, HREC approval is required if there is any sensitive or contentious information that is not present in Sophie’s Facebook page.  Further, Chapter 5.2 of The National Statement states that such a study as that proposed meets its conditions and is ethically satisfactory to gain an exemption from ethical review by the HREC.
 

  1. Can the researcher use content from Sophie’s Facebook profile without Sophie’s consent?

The researcher can access and use information from Sophie’s Facebook profile without her consent. The information present in that profile is publicly accessible by anyone; hence a researcher can access it at any time.  Nevertheless, it is preferable to obtain her informed consent.   The researcher could also submit a request of the HREC qualifying or waiving conditions for consent so reviewers will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of the study consent process. (Chapter 2.3, The National Statement).

  1. Can the researcher use the potentially identifiable content on the basis of Sophie’s consent alone without parental consent?

Potentially identifiable content can be used by the researcher, simply on the basis of Sophie’s Facebook content, in which the consent of her parents is not required. Mature youngsters (who have the capacity to make decisions) do not always need the consent of parent either in ethics or law.  This applies to two situations. 1. Where an individual, although young, is mature enough to see both sides of a given situation.  2. Where the risk of participation is low.  Where information can identify personal particulars, parental consent is required.
 
 

  1. If parental consent is deemed necessary but logistically difficult to obtain, can the researcher wait for 15 months until Sophie turns 18 and then use the data without parental consent but with Sophie’s consent?

Parental consent is not required if the information on Sophie’s Facebook page is not sensitive or does not involve any kind of risk for Sophie.  If there is a situation where parental consent is required by the researcher, he can wait for 15 months until Sophie turns 18 years.  The information in question can then be used by the researcher without parental consent but with Sophie’s continuing and informed consent.
 
Second stage of project:

  1. For the second stage of the study, is Sophie’s electronic acceptance of the researcher as a ‘friend’ equivalent to consent? Is it enough consent? What should the researcher disclose?

Even if Sophie accepts the electronic request of the researcher as a friend, it is not equivalent to providing informed consent to the researcher. Here, the researcher is hiding the real purpose of contacting her, which is highly unethical.  As a researcher is expected to know about young people’s experiences of bullying, detailed information about an individual’s (or group) behaviour and attitudes towards bullying is required. Therefore, the researcher must disclose the real details to Sophie about the purpose and methods of the research.

  1. Is parental consent needed for the second stage of the study?

Parental consent depends on the kind of the questions to be raised.   Certain questions which should be made known to parents as well: they should know who is contacting Sophie and what types of questions are put to her.  Just assessing her Facebook page is one thing, but asking questions of her to obtain particular responses, is a different matter altogether.  In addition, the researcher must recognise and observe the conditions and terms of the Facebook site for conducting research and collect data, especially regarding young people under the age of 18 years.
References
National Health and Medical Research Council, 2007, The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, (Updated May 2015), viewed 25/ 9 /2017, https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e72_national_statement_may_2015_150514_a.pdf
Spriggs, M. (2010). Understanding consent in research involving children: The ethical issues. A handbook for human research ethics committees and researchers. Melbourne: Children’s Bioethics Centre.
 

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ETHIC

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

GET A 40% DISCOUNT ON YOU FIRST ORDER

ORDER NOW DISCOUNT CODE >>>> WELCOME40

CASES DRAWN FROM
Merle Spriggs. Case Studies Understanding Consent in Research Involving Children: The Ethical Issues. The Murdoch Children’s Centre
CASE 2
Consent issues in research involving Facebook
Sixteen-year-old Sophie has chosen the option to set her Facebook profile to public viewing. She has filled in the ‘about me’, and ‘I’d like to meet’ areas of her profile and has included requests to ‘E-mail me’. Her profile is intentionally constructed in the hope of receiving feedback from those who view it. A researcher is conducting a study on bullying at school and young people’s experience of it. He is recruiting and collecting data via the internet from children and young people aged 12 to 16. In the first stage of the study he proposes to collect data from what is posted on Sophie’s Facebook site without Sophie’s consent and without parental consent. In the second stage of the study, the researcher plans to post/email questions for Sophie to answer i.e. to generate new data. The researcher will sign up as Sophie’s friend and then, if accepted, will post questions for her to answer, without making clear that this is research.
Questions: First stage of project:

  1. Is Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval needed?
  2. Can the researcher use content from Sophie’s Facebook profile without Sophie’s consent?
  3. Can the researcher use the potentially identifiable content on the basis of Sophie’s consent alone without parental consent?
  4. If parental consent is deemed necessary but logistically difficult to obtain, can the researcher wait for 15 months until Sophie turns 18 and then use the data without parental consent but with Sophie’s consent?

Second stage of project:

  1. For the second stage of the study, is Sophie’s electronic acceptance of the researcher as a ‘friend’ equivalent to consent? Is it enough consent? What should the researcher disclose?
  2. Is parental consent needed for the second stage of the study?

 
 
 
First Stage

  1. Is Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval needed?

The researcher should not need the approval of the Human Research Ethics Committee because the information to be collected about Sophie is already in the public domain.  However, HREC approval is required if there is any sensitive or contentious information that is not present in Sophie’s Facebook page.  Further, Chapter 5.2 of The National Statement states that such a study as that proposed meets its conditions and is ethically satisfactory to gain an exemption from ethical review by the HREC.
 

  1. Can the researcher use content from Sophie’s Facebook profile without Sophie’s consent?

The researcher can access and use information from Sophie’s Facebook profile without her consent. The information present in that profile is publicly accessible by anyone; hence a researcher can access it at any time.  Nevertheless, it is preferable to obtain her informed consent.   The researcher could also submit a request of the HREC qualifying or waiving conditions for consent so reviewers will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of the study consent process. (Chapter 2.3, The National Statement).

  1. Can the researcher use the potentially identifiable content on the basis of Sophie’s consent alone without parental consent?

Potentially identifiable content can be used by the researcher, simply on the basis of Sophie’s Facebook content, in which the consent of her parents is not required. Mature youngsters (who have the capacity to make decisions) do not always need the consent of parent either in ethics or law.  This applies to two situations. 1. Where an individual, although young, is mature enough to see both sides of a given situation.  2. Where the risk of participation is low.  Where information can identify personal particulars, parental consent is required.
 
 

  1. If parental consent is deemed necessary but logistically difficult to obtain, can the researcher wait for 15 months until Sophie turns 18 and then use the data without parental consent but with Sophie’s consent?

Parental consent is not required if the information on Sophie’s Facebook page is not sensitive or does not involve any kind of risk for Sophie.  If there is a situation where parental consent is required by the researcher, he can wait for 15 months until Sophie turns 18 years.  The information in question can then be used by the researcher without parental consent but with Sophie’s continuing and informed consent.
 
Second stage of project:

  1. For the second stage of the study, is Sophie’s electronic acceptance of the researcher as a ‘friend’ equivalent to consent? Is it enough consent? What should the researcher disclose?

Even if Sophie accepts the electronic request of the researcher as a friend, it is not equivalent to providing informed consent to the researcher. Here, the researcher is hiding the real purpose of contacting her, which is highly unethical.  As a researcher is expected to know about young people’s experiences of bullying, detailed information about an individual’s (or group) behaviour and attitudes towards bullying is required. Therefore, the researcher must disclose the real details to Sophie about the purpose and methods of the research.

  1. Is parental consent needed for the second stage of the study?

Parental consent depends on the kind of the questions to be raised.   Certain questions which should be made known to parents as well: they should know who is contacting Sophie and what types of questions are put to her.  Just assessing her Facebook page is one thing, but asking questions of her to obtain particular responses, is a different matter altogether.  In addition, the researcher must recognise and observe the conditions and terms of the Facebook site for conducting research and collect data, especially regarding young people under the age of 18 years.
References
National Health and Medical Research Council, 2007, The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, (Updated May 2015), viewed 25/ 9 /2017, https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e72_national_statement_may_2015_150514_a.pdf
Spriggs, M. (2010). Understanding consent in research involving children: The ethical issues. A handbook for human research ethics committees and researchers. Melbourne: Children’s Bioethics Centre.
 

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GET A 40% DISCOUNT ON YOU FIRST ORDER

ORDER NOW DISCOUNT CODE >>>> WELCOME40

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized