[SIGCIS-Members] how to address ethical privacy issues regarding corpora?

Deborah Douglas ddouglas at mit.edu
Thu Jun 9 18:54:15 PDT 2016


An additional thought is that different countries have different laws.  So in some, “your words remain your property” regardless of where they are uttered/printed and permission is required.  Other countries have a different view on this.  If your excerpts are modest and the identifications can be found in other publicly available sources (e.g.: MIT publishes my name, title, and contact information), then you may be “OK” but if “famous people are involved” you will need to get permission.  For example, if the astronaut Buzz Aldrin posted to your list, you would need to obtain permission to publish his words because he has a team that carefully monitors and controls all of his “works.”  Many authors of works like this, do take the extra step of writing to the individuals and informing them of the intent to publish their works.  (This is not a request for permission but if someone is concerned this provides you with an opportunity to take that extra step as needed.)

Debbie Douglas



On Jun 9, 2016, at 4:30 PM, James Cortada <jcortada at umn.edu<mailto:jcortada at umn.edu>> wrote:

Kevin's comments make good sense.  I spent 38 years working at IBM and confronted privacy issues of this sort quite often.  So my offer: once you have written your paper, if you are willing to send it to me, I will read it as if a lawyer in a corporation or one of the protagonists of your story, to see if there are issues you would want to consider addressing.  My assumption is that there will be no problems, but one must also be both careful and respectful if involving existing companies and living people.

Regards, Jim Cortada

On Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 2:55 PM, Kevin Driscoll <kdriscoll at alum.mit.edu<mailto:kdriscoll at alum.mit.edu>> wrote:
Hello Alexandre,

I agree that the public accessibility of this listserv does not obviate your ethical obligation to its participants. But I also agree that the professional status of various participants will likely be a critical variable for your analysis and needn't be tossed out altogether. In my experience, there is often a middle path between total disclosure and total anonymity that will require a bit of extra creativity in how you write up your research. For example, paraphrasing is often enough to convey the content of what someone is saying without giving malicious readers an easily googleable phrase.

The critical question involves thinking through the potential harms that may come to listserv participants as a consequence of your research. Fortunately, this is precisely the type of question that has motivated the Association of Internet Researchers Ethics Committee for the last 10+ years and their 2012 guidelines offer a nice model for thinking about research involving online communities, see: http://aoir.org/ethics/

Best of luck with your project,
Kevin Driscoll



On Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 11:28 AM, Alexandre Hocquet <alexandre.hocquet at univ-lorraine.fr<mailto:alexandre.hocquet at univ-lorraine.fr>> wrote:
Dear list members,

We are in the process of submitting a manuscript of a paper within which we use, as our corpus, the archives of a mailing list (namely the Computational Chemistry List, http://www.ccl.net/). Some results of this work on this corpus have been presented at SHOT 2012 in Copenhagen (http://www.sigcis.org/workshop12/Hocquet) for those who remember (and yes, this is very slow science).

This kind of corpus raises the issue of unveiling identities and quotations of the mailing list posters in the manuscript. Even though the archives of the list are publicly accessible on the web, and even though the posters did sign a disclaimer when posting to the list, our question is whether, and to what extent, it could be considered unethical, regarding publication in an academic journal, to disclose their identities.

A radical solution to preserve posters privacy could be to anonymize the identities and quotations of the mailing list posters. But we believe that the details of the background, status, opinions, worldviews... of the actors are of prime interest for our discussion of their debates within the mailing list. Our concern is thus to respect the privacy of posters without losing useful sociological details in the process.

For example, we believe it is a useful information in the dynamics of the debates in the corpus that a poster has a specific academic position, is involved or not in the founding of an entrepreneurial structure, what is their role in the developing of specific software packages....which even raises the issue of privacy of pieces of software as well as humans...

As we have never been confronted to this issue in our previous manuscripts, we are in need of ethical guidelines, or, even more helpful, pieces of advice on our specific case study. Thank you in advance for your answers.

Yours,

--
***********************************************
Alexandre Hocquet

Université de Lorraine & Archives Henri Poincaré
Alexandre.Hocquet at univ-lorraine.fr<mailto:Alexandre.Hocquet at univ-lorraine.fr>
http://poincare.univ-lorraine.fr/fr/membre-titulaire/alexandre-hocquet
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This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org<http://sigcis.org/>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org



--
James W. Cortada
Senior Research Fellow
Charles Babbage Institute
University of Minnesota
jcortada at umn.edu<mailto:jcortada at umn.edu>
608-274-6382
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This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org<http://sigcis.org>, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org

Deborah G. Douglas, PhD • Director of Collections and Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum, Room N51-209 • 265 Massachusetts Avenue • Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 • http://web.mit.edu/museumhttp://museum.mit.edu/150ddouglas at mit.edu<mailto:ddouglas at mit.edu> •  617-253-1766 phone  •  617-253-8994 fax






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