A Murky Business: The Ethics of Conducting Educational Research in Facebook Groups

Leigh-Anne Perryman
The Open University, United Kingdom

Tony Coughlan
The Open University, United Kingdom


Facebook is undoubtedly the face of online social networking and remains ubiquitous. A 2011 study by Harvard University (2011) reported that 90% of four-year undergraduate college students had Facebook accounts at that time and of late there has been an upsurge in academic arguments for the more purposeful use of social media, especially Facebook, as an educational tool (Tess, 2013). Tess (2013), in his comprehensive literature review on the role of social media in higher education, asserts that ‘the ubiquity of social media is no more apparent than at the university where the technology is transforming the ways students communicate, collaborate, and learn’ but also points out that ‘empirical evidence ... has lagged in supporting the claim’.

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