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(San)deep's World. Wise observations from Prof. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Associate Professor of Marketing and E-Commerce, author, educator, Dad, coach, racquetball player, evangelist, speaker and thinker.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Ethics of Conducting E-Mail Surveys

This paper has been receiving a lot of attention lately. Visit my SSRN page to read this and other papers.


Abstract: The prospect of using e-mail in survey research can be very exciting to academic researchers. However, it raises many ethical concerns. While many people have started to say that obtaining consumer permission is important, there is no clarity on how to obtain and maintain permission. Some academic researchers might argue that, due to the low volume and infrequent nature of their surveys and the general positive perception of academia, their e-mail surveys do not add to the Spam problem. However, this is problematic from an ethical perspective since it changes the definition of what Spam is from any unsolicited e-mail to a subset of these e-mails which have certain predefined characteristics. There are ways to implement permission-based respondent contact if the academic community wants to. The only negative to keep in mind will be the statistical problem of self-selection and the loss of complete randomness to some degree. Regardless, the future legal landscape may force academic researcher to adopt permission as the standard.


Anonymous said...

The question of ethics in online research gathering is quite significant. As a graduate student and now as an adjunct professor, I've seen some very unethical practices foisted upon unsuspecting "subjects." One doesn't need to be a genius to realize that even a few encounters with this sort of piratical behavior taints even the most honorable study, and really endangers a lot of important research.

Whether the misuse of email and private conversation is considered permissible or not, it can't be argued that it's a great violation of trust and a hindrance to genuine and honest communication. At best!

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