Anonymity, Confidentiality, Privacy, and Identity: The Ties That Bind and Break in Communication Research

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Abstract

The adoption of the Belmont Report in 1979 and the implementation of Institutional Review Boards focused the need for anonymity as a means to the performance of ethics in human subject inquiry. Despite anonymity being the most frequent recommendation of Institutional Review Boards, the debate between anonymity and identifiability, and what is best for the research, the subject, and the researcher remains strong. This paper explores this debate and the implications that recommendations of anonymity, confidentiality, privacy, and identifiability have on the research process. Through examples of past research that have questioned and dealt with the ethical implications of these concepts, this paper fills a research gap that summarizes and characterizes the debate. This paper explores questions such as: What can anonymity, confidentiality, and privacy add to the research process? And how do they complicate it?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalReview of Communication
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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