Week 7 - Pilot Project Proposal and Ethics

The first assessment for this module (the project proposal for a research project that you will pilot as part of this module) is due on Friday 13th March.  This week's activities are designed to help you develop this project, and gain feedback on it, and in particular to explore the ethical issues that it raises.

Before Thursday

1. Watch Tristram's lecture on Online Research Ethics and work through Ethics module on the ORM website.  You may also want to look at other articles on this week's reading list.

2. Post to your blog giving a brief description of the project that you intend to pilot during this module.  Include information about:

  • The online methodologies you intend to use;
  • Your recruitment strategy (for your actual particpants - not the piloting);
  • What technology you will be employing; and
  • Any ethical issues that your project raises.

Allocation to groups for Thursday's online meeting will be (broadly) based around similarities in research interests and methodologies in order that you can provide peer-support to inform the development of your projects.  

3. Read the blogged project descriptions of the other members of your group prior to the synchronous meeting.



Thank you to those who have blogged about their pilot project ideas.  Based around (broad) similarities/shared interests I have put the following groupings together for the meeting at 10.00 on Thursday 5th March.  If you haven't posted ideas about your project on your blog please enter the 'other' meeting space and we will form an ad-hoc discussion group based on who joins.

Names Meeting Room Url
Orawan, Andrew


Victor, Kristin, Margot


David, Roma, Marion,  https://connect.le.ac.uk/week7g3

Lisa, Stefanie, Kim,

Julia, Jan, Sumaira

Liz, Clare









We would like you to discuss your proposed research, identifying any ethical issues which present particular difficulties and which you would welcome input/advice from your fellow course members.  You may find it helpful to consider the checklist of issues that Eysenbach and Till (2001), recommend should be discussed before studying an internet community.  Clearly, there are many other issues, dependent on the particular research project but this list provides good starting point.

  1. Intrusiveness. Discuss the extent to which the research is intrusive (will it involve passive analysis of internet postings or more active involvement in the community by participating?);
  2. Perceived privacy. Discuss (preferably in consultation with members of the community) the level of perceived privacy of the community (Is it a closed group requiring registration? What is its membership size? What are the group norms?);
  3. Vulnerability. Discuss how vulnerable the community is;
  4. Potential harm. As a result of the above, discuss whether the intrusion of the researcher or publication of the results has potential to harm individuals or the community as a whole;
  5. Informed consent. Discuss whether informed consent is required and how it will be obtained;
  6. Confidentiality. How can the anonymity of participants be protected?;
  7. Intellectual property rights. In some cases participants may not seek anonymity, but publicity, so the use of postings without attribution may not be appropriate.

After Thursday

We would like you to reflect on the feedback that you have been given and to start working on your first assignment.  A key issue to consider over the next week or so is how you will be using the opportunity to pilot your project with the course group.

In order to pilot your project as part of this course you will also need to complete the University of Leicester ethics form form your pilot project.  This ethics form will only give you approval for the pilot research that you do as a part of the course (ie where your fellow course participants are taking on the role of your research participants).  Some sections of the form have already been completed as part of the university's ethics approval process for taught modules.  Please note that you will need to follow your own institution's proceedures for ethical approval before undertaking your project in full.

Share this page:

Exploring Online Research Methods

This site is part of the ESRC funded Exploring Online Research Methods project.

For further information and resources please visit the Exploring Online Research Methods website.

Exploring ORMs / TRI-ORM logo

RDI logo

ESRC logo