The Open UniversitySkip to content

A murky business: the ethics of conducting educational research in Facebook groups

Perryman, Leigh-Anne and Coughlan, Tony (2014). A murky business: the ethics of conducting educational research in Facebook groups. In: Proceedings: Challenges for Research into Open & Distance Learning - Doing Things Better – Doing Better Things, European Distance and E-Learning Network, pp. 277–289.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (278kB) | Preview
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Facebook is undoubtedly the face of online social networking and is transforming ‘the ways students communicate, collaborate, and learn’ (Tess, 2013) within higher education. This paper builds on existing research on the use of Facebook in educational settings, taking as its focus the ethical challenges of researching within Facebook - a topic that receives little attention - asking the overall research question ‘what are the ethical challenges of researching social network activity in an educational context?’. The paper is informed by two phases of our own reflexive research on the educational practices of formal and informal learners both in online forums and in Facebook groups: our developing and piloting the ‘public open scholar’ role (Coughlan and Perryman, 2012) within UK voluntary sector communities and Commonwealth autism-focused Facebook groups; and our more recent research around formal learners participating in public Facebook groups about specific UK Open University (OU) courses.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Copyright Holders: 2014 The authors, EDEN
ISBN: 615-5511-00-4, 978-615-5511-00-4
Extra Information: Access to download available until 31 December, 2014.
Keywords: Facebook; research ethics; social network; education; Open University,
Academic Unit/School: Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 41323
Depositing User: Tony Coughlan
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2014 10:17
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2019 00:52
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU