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Christina's LIS Rant
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
  Correction: "do no harm" is not the standard for human subjects research
I incorrectly held Alex Havalais to a higher standard than is used in social science research. A quote from Mark S. Frankel and Sanyin Siang, "Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research on the Internet: A Report of a Workshop, June 10-11, 1999, Washington, DC" Washington: AAAS, November 1999. Available in PDF.
The second principle, beneficence, involves maximizing possible benefits and good for the subject, while minimizing the amount of possible harm and risks resulting from the research. Since the fruits of knowledge can come at a cost to those participating in research, the last principle, justice, seeks a fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with research, so that certain individuals or groups do not bear disproportionate risks while others reap the benefits.
If this experiment isn't repeated, and Havalais continues to make the results of his work widely available so that the maximum number of potential Wikipedia users benefit from it, then maybe it is ok. If, on the other hand, if this spawns a bunch of amateur researchers trying to see if they can get something by, then that's too bad.
Also, I don't, in general, believe that users should have their changes deleted based primarily on their IP or login name. I would say that it is within the editor's rights to suspend changes of a user who is in the process of blatantly flaming or posting graffiti -- at least until that user can be contacted.
I would encourage people doing research on Wikipedia to publish their methodology and results in library and information science journals or at least in ACM or IEEE journals so that the research doesn't have to be repeated.
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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