Internet Research Ethics


Dag Elgesem, Professor; Charles Ess, Professor; Anders Olof Larsson, Postdoctoral fellow; Marika Lüders, Senior Research Scientist; Robindra Prabhu; Katrine Utaaker Segadal; Elisabeth Staksrud, Associate Professor; Kari Steen-Johnsen, Research Professor; Bernard Enjolras, Research Professor; Hallvard Fossheim, Associate Professor; Helene Ingierd


This anthology addresses ethical challenges that arise within the field of Internet research. Among the issues discussed in the book are the following:

  • When is voluntary informed consent from research subjects required in using the Internet as a data source?
  • How may researchers secure the privacy of research subjects in a landscape where the traditional public/private distinction is blurred and re-identification is a recurring threat?
  • What are the central ethical and legal aspects of Internet research for individuals, groups, and society?

The book is written in cooperation with The Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees. The Commitees are independent public agencies providing guidelines and addressing questions regarding research ethics in all subject fields.


  • Introductory remarks
    Hallvard Fossheim, Helene Ingierd
  • Consent and information - ethical considerations when conducting research on social media
    Dag Elgesem
  • Possibilities and limitations of Internet research: A legal framework
    Katrine Utaaker Segadal
  • New selves, new research ethics?
    Charles Ess
  • Researching social media: Confidentiality, anonymity and reconstructing online practices
    Marika Lüders
  • Counting children
    Elisabeth Staksrud
  • Social research and Big Data - the tension between opportunities and realities
    Kari Steen-Johnsen, Bernard Enjolras
  • Studying Big Data - ethical and methodological considerations
    Anders Olof Larsson
  • Big Data - big trouble?
    Meanderings in an uncharted ethical landscape
    Robindra Prabhu


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Author Biographies

Dag Elgesem, Professor

Dag Elgesem, Professor of ICT and Society at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen. He has been working on normative issues related to ICT, including Internet research ethics, for a number of years. His current research focuses on methods for the analysis of discourses in social media, in particular blogs, and he leads the Project Networks of Texts and People ( From 1995 to 2000 he was the director of NESH.

Charles Ess, Professor

Charles Ess, (PhD, Pennsylvania State University, USA) is Professor inMedia Studies, Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Drury University (Springfield, Missouri), USA. Emphasizing cross-Cultural perspectives, Dr. Ess has published extensively in the field of information and computing ethics and Internet studies.

Anders Olof Larsson, Postdoctoral fellow

Anders Olof Larsson is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo. Larsson’s research interests include the use of the Internet by societal institutions and their audiences, online political communication and quantitative methods. For more information,see

Marika Lüders, Senior Research Scientist

Marika Lüders, (PhD, UiO) is a senior research scientist at SINTEF, Oslo. Her research concerns the consequences of the networked society, addressing e.g. social network sites, knowledge-sharing,democratic participation and privacy. Her work has been published in journals such as New Media Society and Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.

Robindra Prabhu

Robindra Prabhu is a project manager with the Norwegian Board of Technology. His work centres on policy opportunities and challenges related to Big Data, machine learning, algorithmic predictions and decision-making, and their wider implications for society. He was previously a Research Associate at University College London, working on data analysis and the development of algorithmic tools for the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN, and holds a PhD in high energy physics.

Katrine Utaaker Segadal

Katrine Utaaker Segadal is a social scientist and the Head of Section for the Data Protection Official for Research at the Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD). She works with ethical and legal issues regarding privacy protection, with a focus on sustaining needs of research within the regulatory framework.

Elisabeth Staksrud, Associate Professor

Elisabeth Staksrud, PhD, is Associate Professor and Head of Studies at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, researching censorship, media regulation, children and online risk. She is also deputy chair of NESH. Her most recent publication includes “Children in the Online world: Risk, Regulation, Rights”(Ashgate, 2013), “Towards a better Internet for children?” (O’Neill, B., Staksrud, E., & McLaughlin, S. (Eds.), 2013, Nordicom), and a book on online bullying (“Digital Mobbing”, Kommuneforlaget, 2013).

Kari Steen-Johnsen, Research Professor

Kari Steen-Johnsen, Ph.D, is Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research, Oslo. She is a sociologist with a particular interest in changes within civil society. In her recent research she Explores the impact of digitalization on political participation, Democracy and the public sphere.

Bernard Enjolras, Research Professor

Bernard Enjolras is head of research at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo and research director at the Centre for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector. He has a PhD in sociology from the Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada), and a PhD in socioeconomics from Paris-Sorbonne University (France). His fields of research are civil society, non-governmental organizations, public policy, public governance, social media and the public sphere.

Hallvard Fossheim, Associate Professor

Hallvard Fossheim has served as Director of the Norwegian National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and Humanities (NESH), and is currently Associate Professor of philosophy at the University of Bergen and Professor II in ethics and political theory at the University of Tromsø. He has published in the fields of ethics and research ethics as well as the history of philosophy.

Helene Ingierd

Helene Ingierd is Director of the Norwegian National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology. Ingierd holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Oslo, and has worked extensively in the area of war and ethics.

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