The nature of the internet and the rapid pace of change are giving rise to new and distinctive questions, obliging researchers to reflect on different, often conflicting considerations and norms in research ethics. In 2014, the National Committee for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (NESH) therefore revised its "Research Ethics Guidelines for Internet Research" from 2003. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide guidance and advice for Internet research; they do not replace current legislation in the area.

 

The general framework for the specific guidelines is the NESH's Guidelines for research ethics in the social sciences, law and the humanities of 2006 (the text refers to the relevant guidelines as required). The current guidelines for research ethics apply to all research in the social sciences, the humanities, law and theology. It is the responsibility of the researchers to meet this research ethics obligation. When conducting research on/using the Internet, it is often unclear if or how these guidelines are adequate or relevant because the research can raise completely new issues of a methodological, epistemological or ontological nature. The ethical guidelines for Internet research are therefore intended as additional guidance for researchers. This is particularly true when the research directly or indirectly involves people. Internet research is a very comprehensive topic and can intersect with (and fall between) different academic disciplines and fields of research. Internet research can also raise questions of research ethics outside the field and the NESH guidelines. In such cases, consulting the General guidelines for research ethics may be useful.