Qualitative research uses interviews and group discussions to gather information. What individuals say during these interviews or group discussions is then transcribed to then be used to attempt to answer the research question. Interviewing 10 participants for half an hour each can be very time consuming and a lot of work. What if the researcher couldn’t find enough participants to take part in their study, what would happen then? On the internet there are plenty of sources where people give their opinions about certain issues. Would it be ethical for a researcher to go and find some of these sources to use in their research? My opinion is no, it would be very unethical for a researcher to do such a thing.
The first point I make is that internet sources such as blogs can be written by anyone in the world and everyone has an opinion. Therefore, if there was a blog on the internet discussing a topic that a researcher was in the middle of doing a research study on, and they decided that it was a great blog making a good argument therefore decided to use it in their study. This would be unethical on many levels. The main point is that the researcher does not know anything about this person or where there form or what they do for a living. Using this blog in the study would question both the reliability and validity of the study.
Another issue about using information found on the internet in a research study is consent. It is unethical to use other people’s work without having consent from them first. If I wrote a blog and then found the information of that blog in someone’s research study I would be quite angry that someone had used my work without asking me first. If you wanted to use someone’s work, asking for consent would be the first thing you should do and I’m sure it wouldn’t take more than five minutes to write an email. If consent is not asked then it is very dishonest of the person who is using it as their own work. The BPS (British Psychological Society) state that if a participant was to take part in a study consent would be needed by them for their information to be used, therefore why should it be ok to use information from other people off the internet without their consent.
To conclude, by using information from blogs and internet sources for a research study, the results that will come from it will be unreliable and invalid. The information on the internet could be false information and could be written by someone using a false identity, therefore why would you want to use such risky sources as information in a research study.