OTalk and Research

From time to time, we are approached about using tweetchats to gather information for research or presentation purposes. While we understand that institutions may differ in their requirements for research ethics, it is important for us that our community is protected.

Our stance is that:

Due to the nature of Twitter and the publication of chat transcripts which are easily searchable, true anonymity is not achievable.

While tweets are in the public domain, they occur within a specific context of individuals sharing ideas with each other (often at a very fast pace), rather than with the intention of their tweets being harvested for research.

By prompting/engaging in a Twitter chat, researchers are interacting with human participants, and should therefore contact their research ethics committee to determine whether they will require ethical approval for the research.

Expectations:

Researchers will approach OTalk for permission before harvesting tweets for research or presentation purposes.

Researchers will contact their research ethics committees to determine whether ethical approval is required (and provide OTalk with proof ethical approval has been approved or deemed unnecessary).

OTalk reserves the right to refuse a chat to be used for the purposes of research where ethical approval has not been sought or approved, particularly in cases where where topics may be considered more contentious or sensitive.

The intended use of tweets will be made explicit in the pre-chat blog, and tweeted at least three times: at the start, end, and middle of the chat. This must include an option for participants to withdraw any or all of their tweets from the research by contacting the researcher.

Tweets from ‘locked’ accounts will not be used unless participants actively consent.

We will review our stance on an ongoing basis, and welcome input from our community and potential researchers in doing so.

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