Exploring Ethical and Methodological Issues in Internet-Based Research with Adolescents

  • Heather Battles McMaster University


Internet-based research is a relatively new and growing field that presents a number of ethical challenges regarding privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent. In light of a study examining discussions regarding the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine on a publicly viewable Internet message board among primarily American, Australian, and Canadian female adolescents and young adults, the author discusses the methodological and ethical concerns surrounding Internet-based qualitative research with youth. The author first provides some contextual background about the study and issues surrounding the HPV vaccine. She describes her methods of data collection and analysis and provides a summary of the results. The author then explores a number of ethical issues that arise in Internet-based research and examines her own ethical decision-making as informed by existing discussions and guidelines in this area.

Author Biography

Heather Battles, McMaster University
Department of Anthropology, PhD candidate