The point you raise is very interesting and important, touching on the
issues of validity and reliability, related to but also independent of
My MSc dissertation involved analysis of printed texts. An interesting
methodological source was:
Scott, J 1990 A matter of record: documentary sources in social research.
Lead Midwife for Education
School of Nursing & Midwifery
Clinical Education Centre
Tel. 01782 556698
> Hi Sarah and everyone,
> I am really enjoying this thread and glad that this very pertinent
> research issue has been aired through the list, thanks everyone for your
> fascinating contributions!
> Forgive me, as I am a relative novice in this particular body of
> literature but I do think there is a tension which needs addressing here.
> To my mind at least, whether a data source is considered to be legitimate
> is not quite the same as whether it should be comfortably thought of as
> being ethical. The internet 'records' spontaneous interaction, this as a
> consequence distinguishes it in a very particular way from other publicly
> available texts. At present my understanding is that we use this notion
> of public availability as a kind of boundary for consent. That is, if it
> is out there then no consent is officially required. An interesting
> notion but an ethical one?? On the other hand however, analysis of
> printed texts has, to my knowledge, never excited any ethical concerns
> despite the fact that the text is being used for a purpose which it was
> never designed for and which the author possibly never considered
> (although interestingly, multi modal analysis which involves reproducing
> an image rather than simply reproducing parts of texts, does indeed
> require consent as it touches upon copyright law).
> Thanks again for everyone's contribution.
> Mandie Scamell
> From: A forum for discussion on midwifery and reproductive health
> research. [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Sarah Stewart
> [[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 09 December 2010 22:22
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Ethical use of on-line and email list discussions
> Hello Robyn and anyone else interested in the ethics of Internet research
> I use two sources for information of Internet ethics which I have found to
> be invaluable.
> 1. The Association of Online Internet Research ethics guide:
> 2. Chris Mann and Fiona Stewart. Internet Communication and Qualitative
> Research: A Handbook for Researching Online
> 2000 Sage
> However, there are many other texts out there - it's always worth looking
> at work by Charles Ess who is considered to be a world expert of Internet
> research ethics, and Steve Jones, who is also a world class Internet
> As for your particular question, Robyn, it depends if the email list is
> open or closed. This particular list is open and in the public domain, so
> you can use it quite happily. But it is good practice for you to contact
> the authors and let them know you are using their words.
> But if the email list if closed, you would need to get permission from
> the authors because you would be using their words for a different purpose
> from what they were originally planned.
> If you are interested, I have written a brief article that might act as a
> good starting place when considering these issues:
> Internet research in midwifery: Practical considerations and
> By: Stewart, Sarah. British Journal of Midwifery, Sep2006, Vol. 14 Issue
> 9, p527-529, 3p; (AN 22462880)
> cheers Sarah
> On Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 10:19 AM, Robyn Maude [CCDHB]
> <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> Mandie said - "For example can JISC discussions be used as a measure of
> midwifery discourse?"
> This is an area that I currently seeking guidance from my ethics
> committee about and would be interested to get feedback from the group.
> I am doing my PhD on intermittent auscultation and over the years (mid
> 2007, 2009 and again this year) have triggered a couple of threads
> around this issue and fetal monitoring in general. There has been a
> significant amount of debate all of which is amazingly interesting in
> terms of getting a wide range of opninions from midwives and researchers
> around the world - almost like an eDelphi in a lot of ways.
> When posting on the JISCMAIL lists I have been clear about my PhD
> candidacy status and the questions I am asking in that context. I email
> the list moderator a while back to seek clarification regarding the
> ability to use the material from the discussions and was told it was in
> the public domain and could be referenced as personal communication - I
> am not sure about this without going back to the individual who make the
> comment - so any further advice on this is of value
> Robyn Maude
> Sarah Stewart
> Educational Facilitator and Consultant
> Skype: sarah.m.stewart
> Twitter: SarahStewart
> Second Life: Petal Stransky
> +64 27 7379998