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Designing Software for Research Ethics


Illustration of a researcher pinning items to a white board.

Letting people know we want their data and explaining why we think it's worth it is the bare minimum we could be doing.

Jonathan Zong, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering and computer science at Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), thinks consent can be baked into the design of the software that gathers our data for online research. To that end, he created Bartleby, a system for debriefing research participants and eliciting their views about social media research that involved them.

In an interview, Zong shares how researchers can use Bartleby to automatically direct each of their study participants to a website where they can learn about their involvement in research, view what data researchers collected about them, and provide feedback. Most importantly, participants can use the website to opt out and request to delete their data.

From MIT News
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