Yesterday I won my first research grant from The University of Oxford, through the Oxford e-Research Centre acting as the National Strategic Directorate for e-Social Science (NSDeSS), to carry out a study entitled “Ethics in Research: Web 2.0 Monitoring and Analysis”. Here are extracts from my successful research grant bid:
“Since the widening availability and accessibility of ICT people are now connecting in new and emerging ways that are redefining social and computer interaction e.g. user generated content websites. As a result web 2.0 monitoring and analysis has become increasingly popular amongst researchers, outputs include: understanding user requirements and engagement, competitive intelligence, methods for web 2.0 resource retrieval, business function support etc. Studies like Lewis (2012ab) that monitored Twitter.com hashtag #NewTwitter (638,125 tweets) over a 6-month period followed by textual analysis of 3000 tweets to aid the development of a 5-stage process for online social network change ; Zabin, J. & Jefferies, A. (2008) that produced a roadmap for companies that aim to achieve a variety of business objectives through Best-in-Class use of social media monitoring and analysis solutions ; and Scanfeld, D et al (2010) that provided evidence of misunderstandings or misuse of antibiotics by monitoring Twitter.com mentions containing “antibiotic(s)” ; have conjured multiple ethical issues such as: collection e.g. service provider and user ownership/control alongside collection methods, analysis e.g. dealing with potential incriminating content, and publishing/sharing e.g. permissions and privacy.
Additionally with Internet use in the United Kingdom being almost the highest in Europe, with over 16.46 million users, 65%, of UK households accessing the Internet , 49% of these users accessing web 2.0 technology predominantly social networking websites and are making over 24 million visits to these platforms per month . As a result researchers have realized the value contained within user-generated platforms like Twitter.com and are now exploring ways to monitor and analyze this vast information resource. This research will help to address ethical concerns within this “hot” topic especially amongst those that research online communication (computer-mediated communication) however it will also be stimulating and useful to other disciplines e.g. Social Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Web Accessibility, Health Informatics etc.
The purpose of this research is to look retrospectively at current web 2.0 monitoring and analysis practice. This will involve an in-depth look at ethical issues experienced; the guidance/opinions of ethical committees, and the opinions and restrictions imposed by perceived owners e.g. service providers, web developers and service users. The overarching contribution of this research will be the development of ethical guidance for researchers that carryout web 2.0 monitoring and analysis.”
a. Lewis, M., 2012. aOSN-cp model to assist social media change. 27th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, San Diego. USA.
b. Lewis, M et al. 2012. A five stage process for online social network change. DIS’12.
 Zabin, J. & Jefferies, A., 2008. Social Media Monitoring and Analysis: Generating Consumer Insights from Online Conversation. Aberdeen Group Benchmark Report.
 Scanfeld, D., Scanfeld, C. & Larson E., 2010. Dissemination of health information through social
 Office of Communications (2008). Social Networking: a quantitative and qualitative research report. Attitudes, Behaviours and Use: 1 – 69.
 Dutton, H., Helsper, E., Gerber, M., (2009). The internet in Britain 2009’. Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.