Ethical Challenges in Online Research


  • Bianca Hanganu Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iasi, Romania
  • Irina Smaranda Manoilescu "Gr.T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iași, Romania
  • Beatrice Gabriela Ioan "Gr.T. Popa" University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iași, Romania



online research, ethical challenges, COVID-19 pandemic


The Internet has become an increasingly used tool in research, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased its applicability. Researchers rely in their studies on the many benefits of the Internet- saving resources (e.g. time, money, energy), rapid dissemination to a large number of people, indefinite storage of data collected in the virtual environment. However, the use of this tool in research brings with it new challenges. The authors conducted an analysis of data published in the literature to identify the ethical challenges associated with the use of the Internet in different fields of research and the ways in which they could be overcome. The Internet can be used in any of the stages of a research: from the dissemination of the announcement, to the recruitment of participants and to the collection of data, including the dissemination of the results in specialized publications available in electronic format. The Internet generates ethical challenges in all areas of research in which it is used and which have increasingly broad boundaries: social sciences and humanities, arts, medicine, engineering. The main ethical challenges mentioned in the literature refer to respecting the autonomy of research participants (privacy, confidentiality, informed consent), risk-benefit balance (maximizing benefits and minimizing social, physical or psychological risks for participants) and justice (transparency, honesty towards participants). Online research brings both advantages and challenges; the acknowledgment and the prevention of the latter create the premises for conducting research in the appropriate ethical framework, in safe conditions for all participants.