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The Ethics of Conducting E-Mail Surveys

Krishnamurthy, Sandeep, "The Ethics of Conducting E-Mail Surveys" . Sandeep Krishnamurthy, READINGS IN VIRTUAL RESEARCH ETHICS: ISSUES AND CONTROVERSIES, 2002 Available at SSRN:

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.
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