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Meta-topics: Ethics, sampling, and consent. Ethics and informed consent According to federal guidelines (

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Presentation on theme: "Meta-topics: Ethics, sampling, and consent. Ethics and informed consent According to federal guidelines ("— Presentation transcript:

1 Meta-topics: Ethics, sampling, and consent

2 Ethics and informed consent According to federal guidelines ( ), most research conducted on-line should be deemed “exempt” by IRBs (IRBs, not you, must make that determination.) Why? Most tests and surveys are exempt unless “information obtained is recorded in such a manner that human subjects can be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects” (sect 46.101 b 2) If personal information is not obtained, there is no way to trace a person’s responses back to him or her.

3 Ethics and informed consent Moreover, consent can be waived if the research involves no more than minimal risk to subjects, where minimal risk is defined such that “the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests” (section 46.102 i). Waiving written consent: “the only record linking the subject and the research would be the consent document…” (section 46.117 c 1). People can withdraw literally at any time—with no social norms influencing their participation.


5 Sampling concerns Are Internet participants representative of the population? –No. Are traditional college samples less representative than Internet samples? –Yes.

6 WebJPSP Male43%23% SES 1.1% poor 15.4% working class 5.5% lower middle class 46% middle class 29.2% lower middle class 2.8% upper middle class SES only reported for 5- 10% of articles; 85% university students (only 27% of general population have college degrees) AgeM = 27.6M = 23 CountrybroadTypically based on one culture Ethnicity77% white80% white Comparison of Web-based samples and JPSP-based samples From Gosling, Vazire, Srivastava, & John (2004)

7 Careless data An assumption that web participants won’t take the research seriously: –Provide false answers –Careless –Sabotage This assumption begs the question of why people would want to participate in research in the first place.

8 Careless data People participate because they want to gain some self-insight, they want their opinions to be known, their friends suggested the site, or they just want to have some fun and do something interesting. Web folks are fickle; they are not going to waste their time as a means to wasting your own.

9 Careless data Assuming people are intrinsically interested in participating, there are problems that emerge: –Press submit button twice, leading to duplicate entries –Try the study multiple times, to see how their feedback is affected Discussion of solutions to these problems. –“done it before” buttons with default to “yes” –“try it again” links –Random code that gets submitted with response; allows duplicate entries to be sorted and deleted

10 Have you taken this survey before? No Yes

11 # Generate random identifier: $pina @varlist= (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9); srand; @new = (); while (@varlist){ push(@new, splice(@varlist, rand @varlist,1)); } @pin= @new; $pina = $pin[0]. $pin[1]. $pin[2]. $pin[3]. $pin[4]. $pin[5]. $pin[6]. $pin[7]. $pin[8];

12 Making your site known Create a stable (always present) home page for your lab or research site. Include the important key words on your home page—the kinds of search terms you would like to lead to your site. –Some search engines weigh the text of the title more heavily than text in the body. APS, SPSP, and other organizations sometimes list URLs to on-line psychological research

13 Seven guidelines for maximizing participation rates Make the study interesting. –If the actual research is not going to be of interest to people more generally, add something to the design that will make it so. Your advertised research doesn’t need to perfectly match your true interests. Make it short. –No more than 10 minutes. Minimize legalese –People surfing the web know they can leave at any time. Don’t bog them down in text that they won’t want to read. If the legalese doesn’t simply scare them away, they prob won’t read it anyhow. /Fine-Print-Says-Game-Store-Owns-Your-Soul

14 Seven guidelines for maximizing participation rates Promise feedback –On your introductory page, explain clearly (and concisely) what people will be doing and what they will receive in response Deliver good feedback –If your feedback is informative, people are likely to pass the link on to friends and feel that they did not waste their time Do not collect personal information –Do not make feedback or participation contingent upon registration. Do not use pop-up ads on your site. –If it seems commercial or smells like a phishing site, people may not trust it as much.


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