March 25, 2012

Is it wise to use the Internet as a source of information?

Filed under: Uncategorized — psucd6psychology @ 4:38 pm

Over many years we’ve seen the internet grow rapidly as a source of information on a vast number of areas, but is it a wise move for individuals such as us, university students to use this in work such as essays or research reports? I believe that to attempt to come to a conclusion on this subject we need to look  at it from two points of view, the point of view of ourselves but also the point of view of the people that initially publish the information on to the world wide web.

Obviously as a university student myself i see the internet as a massive help in terms of research in to different areas of psychology but with regards to putting this information in to pieces of work we have to stop and think for a second. The first question we have to ask ourselves is who published the information and whether or not we can trust the author, for example Wikipedia, obviously we wouldn’t ever use this website but this is a good example that highlights how easy it is for anyone to put inaccurate information on to the internet. The principle is the same on other websites, anyone can sit there and write whatever they want then publish it the the world wide web. If we use this information it could drastically change the quality of work we hand in. Its questions like these that are posed by Taflinger (1996) with specific reference to the wrong usage and publication of statistics.

On the other hand we also have to take in to account the authors thoughts about their words being used by other people which in the majority of occasions would use the information without their permission. Some people may argue that when someone publishes information on the internet it is open to the public and anyone can access it but at the same time we must make sure we sure we are not taking advantage of the information and using it if it will obviously go against the wishes of the author.

In conclusion to answer this question we have to take into consideration the morality of using information without the authors permission but also common sense in the fact that it would be very stupid of us to use information that is not completely reliable and risk a lower quality of work.



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    Pingback by Final Blog Comments! :) « All About Psychology — March 26, 2012 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  2. I also decided to talk about his issue on my blog and I managed to come up with similar arguments to yours, the main one being that it would decrease the quality of the research because you would not know if it was valid data or just made up, however some people may pose the argument of whether if you knew where that data came from is there any harm in using it in our personal experiment? I believe that there is because you may not get consent like you said from the persons whose data it actually is. This is a major ethical problem, the only way round this I see is to maybe have a authorised website which researcher can share their data and the data could then be confirmed to be valid data and then they could gather informed consent for people to use their data for research purposes. However people may argue that this is not necessary because some people believe that if a person puts something on the internet that they are informally signing a ‘metaphorical’ consent form because anyone can view anything that people put on the internet.

    Comment by standarderrorofskewness — April 12, 2012 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  3. It seems to be a common opinion that what is posted on the internet can be used for any purpose because that person has made it ‘available’ by putting it on the net. But that doesnt seem entirely right to me. I can say something aloud, and those words have been made available to anybody listening, have I therefore consented to those people using what I have said however they like simply because I spoke out loud and therefore made my words available to the public? Similarly, if I wrote something down, would what I wrote be available to the reader to do with as they wish, even if I had not intended anyone to read it? I think that most people who post on the internet are expecting their friends, family or specific blog audience to read and respond to what they have written. They are not expecting scientists to access their work and dissect it for meaning and content, and then maybe even publish fragments of it in a scientific paper. The idea that psychologists might do this had certainly never crossed my mind before I started my degree. If people knew what the things they post might be used for then perhaps implied consent could be assumed, but I don’t think that most do therefore I beleive it is an unethical way to gather data. And since information taken from the internet is notoriously unreliable I don’t think that bending informed consent rules is at all justified. The best way I can see for researcher to use the internet to gather data would be to use it to send out email questionnaires etc, and to start using skype or other similar video calling tools to conduct interviews, rather than using the telephone.

    Comment by psuc1b — April 13, 2012 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  4. I choose this topic for a previous blog and you brought up some interesting points that I did not think to mention. I agree that internet sources are widely available for the whole world to access and also that we should not use this information to go against the what the author intended but this is a big problem for getting interent sources. When using things like forums for internet sources, much controversy can arise as the reader might interpret what they have written far different to what the author intended, leading to an misunderstanding of this information, unknown to both the original author and those using the information. This is why each individual publishing stuff on the internet should be aware how widely available this is to the general public.

    Comment by dnf24 — April 18, 2012 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  5. I feel that two of the main problems with using the internet as a source of information is that firstly as you stated the information could have been written by just about anyone which can make it very unreliable, the anonymity of the internet has taken away a certain social aspect which has made it very easy for anyone to write what ever they wish about anything. This is why we need recognised and official places that we can use with confidence, knowing that the information we find there will be reliable. The second problem I would like to point out is that if we allow our work to be on the internet then we should expect that it will be used, and not always in the way we intended it to be used. I acknowledge your point that we need to respect the authors of these pieces of information and I totally agree, but I also think that publishing work on the internet is very much at your own risk.

    Comment by psychblogld — April 18, 2012 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

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