Is it ethically ok to use internet sources as data for qualitative studies?

The internet is a very useful tool in 21st century society and sites like Wikipedia are very useful to find data and information. We use Wikipedia and Google search in our society to find out facts about anything we do not know. However we don not know who wrote this and ethically is this biased towards a certain group. With the internet there is no censorship so we simply do not know. Any person with a computer can put any statistic they like on line.

This the reason why it is unethical to use the internet as a source from qualitative research studies is we as scientist need evidence to back up what we quote as data. If an internet site says that, “ 1/ 10 people eating apples makes you stupid” it would be totally unethical to use said statistic due to we know nothing about how this data was collected, or how biased the researcher was, i.e. this research was done by a drunk university student at a party. Reach was done By Daniel Terdiman and he  found that that “averages up to 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia” however the irony behind this statement is that this data was found using Google search 😀

Also there is a great amount of misused of statistics on the internet due to the articles produced are not checked by a scientific body any example of this is Bad Science column in the Guardian online. The writer of this article often uses data which is correct and uses it to make back up arguments which the data is not purposed for. You might use it for a qualitative study and miss use the information which would be unethical due to the data was not meant to be used in such a way.


Reaserch Biased

As researchers we need funding to do research and to get this money we need financial support from benefactors. So if a specific company funds the research; does it make the researcher more bias, thus causing the researcher to try to make the results meet the expectations of the company?


Biased research has two detrimental effects on research. Firstly it might give the scientific community a bad name. Which might cause the public to believe that scientific is unreliable. Also it might made people believe untrue things about a product. As in the case Christina Turner & George J. Spilich, they made people believe that smoking had some health benefits thus could have made people start smoking, which may lead to health risks.


Well according to research done by Friedman and Richter, researchers with “Conflicting interests are 10-20 times less likely to present negative findings than those without Conflict interests.” This research showed that due to the pressure of the conflicting influences by benefactors researchers are likely to change data to make findings create the desired result.  


An example of research biased is in 1996 where Christina Turner & George J. Spilich changed their data to “report typically that nicotine or smoking improved cognitive performance”. However are publishing there work were accused and found guilty of receiving funding from major tobacco company. When there


Overall study by Friedman and Richter shows that researches seem to feel obligated to try and make their benefactors look better even if it is subconsciously. Thus companies should not be allowed to fund their own experiments or even know to which scientist this research has gone, or another case of Christina Turner & George J. Spilich will occur.