“Research Ethics, the Law, and the Use of Social Networking Sites for Academic Research Purposes” Lecture November 7

Wednesday, November 7
3:30-5 p.m.
Thompson Library, 1858 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH  43210

This offering in the Libraries’ Lecture Series tackles a complicated and evolving issue, describing the uses of social networking sites for academic research purposes, and explore both the ethical and legal implications of such uses. 

With almost one billion active users monthly, Facebook is typically considered the world’s most popular social networking site.  What many of these users may not know is that academic researchers are turning to sites like Facebook – and even dating sites like OKCupid – to conduct their research because of the abundance of information that is posted by and thus available about individuals. Social networking sites currently play a major role in the conduct of academic research, as researchers use these sites in many ways.  The ethical considerations when conducting academic research using social networking sites are numerous, ranging from whether to protect the identity of individual site users in publications to whether to obtain consent from site users to analyze their information for research purposes.  There are numerous legal considerations as well, such as whether research involving the use of social networking sites is subject to federal regulations governing research with human subjects, or whether a researcher who publishes information obtained from a social networking site could successfully be sued for a tort such as invasion of privacy.

Speaker Lauren Solberg is the Assistant Vice President of Human Subjects Protection & Research Integrity at Meharry Medical College, where she is responsible for overseeing activities related to the conduct of research with human subjects; providing advice on ethics to researchers, IRB members, and institutional officials; and overseeing general and research-specific ethics education of researchers at the institution.  Ms. Solberg previously worked at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she supervised the ethical review and regulatory compliance of research with human subjects, and managed the operations of the Institutional Review Board as well as other compliance committees.  She was also responsible for the ongoing education of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students on issues related to human subjects research, the responsible conduct of research, and general research ethics.

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