Interviewer: Anthony Hoffmann

Interviewee: Elizabeth Buchanan

Earlier this month, Anthony Hoffmann (University of Wisconsin Ph.D. student and Project Assistant with the Internet Research Ethics Digital Library, Resource Center, and Commons project) sat down with Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan (Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, director of the Center for Information Policy Research, and Principal Investigator on the same IRE project) for a friendly conversation regarding the subject of Internet research ethics.

Your work is focused in the area of Internet research ethics (IRE). Can you speak briefly about the field and your experiences in it?

I’ve been working in the area of Internet research ethics, really, since 1998. When I wrote my dissertation, it was studying online interactions in a Bioethics course in a medical school, and when I went through the Institutional Review Board (IRB), I had to explain how I was collecting data when I would never sit f2f with the participants. I had to justify issues of consent, pseudonymity, online interviewing, data storage, and the like, and at that time, the IRB was not very well versed in online research. What got me really piqued was when the course I was studying was focusing on traditional research ethics issues, justice, consent, beneficience, so, I was experiencing a very meta-level engagement with the issues while grappling with them in this online setting.