Navigating Digital Ethics for Rural Research: Guidelines and recommendations for researchers and administrators of social media groups

Alison Mayne, Christina Noble, Paula Duffy, Kirsten Gow, Alexander Glasgow, Rani Melrose, Kevin O’Neill, Jeni Reid, Diana Valero* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportOther Report

38 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Social media creates new spaces for connecting people digitally and provides a forum for the exchange of information and discussion. Online spaces such as Facebook groups (FGs) have become part of the fabric of social interaction in many rural areas, with both residents and others living away from the community maintaining a connection in the virtual space. Community FGs are routinely used to share place-based information about resources, events or issues, and to discuss topics of shared interest. In research, these groups allow researchers to connect directly with people who have an interest in what happens within specific communities and offer rich opportunities for participants to likewise engage with research. We can reflect on how FGs in rural communities have the potential to enhance and/or complement existing approaches by making research with dispersed communities more accessible and affordable, while considering challenges around confidentiality and digital inclusion given the characteristics and size of the population.

Social media has developed at pace during the last decade, and digital ethics is a shifting methods sub-field that poses challenges to social sciences and humanities researchers. Apart from platforms’ changing terms and conditions, research with and on social media groups has specific ethical challenges (e.g. around anonymity, confidentiality, and data access) that require tailored consideration.

In particular, when approaching netnography and similar methods with social media groups, dialogic approaches which aim to engage, respect and protect participants are critical. There is consensus on the need to agree the access conditions with the group administrator as a first step, but there is no guidance on good practice on developing these conditions.

To create these guidelines, we have worked collaboratively across disciplines and with administrators of Facebook groups to explore what such process could look like: aspects to address, pros and cons of potential approaches, and potential challenges and solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

This document was produced as a deliverable of the research project “Navigating Digital Ethics for Rural Research: Guidelines and recommendations for researchers and administrators of social media groups” (DigiEthics). Digiethics is a transdisciplinary project seeking to advance digital ethics by co-designing guidelines for engaging Facebook groups. This project was funded by the by the British Academy Early Career Research Network Scotland Hub Seed Fund 2023.

This document is available online with background information at: https://www.hutton.ac.uk/research/ projects/digiethics-navigating-digital-ethics-rural-research If you have read/used this document and you have any comments or feedback you would like to share with us, we would love to hear from you. Please contact diana.valero@hutton.ac.uk.

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Navigating Digital Ethics for Rural Research: Guidelines and recommendations for researchers and administrators of social media groups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this