Negotiating the Ethics of Representation in RHM Research

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Melissa Carrion


Drawing from my experience conducting an interview-based study on vaccine hesitancy, this essay explores the ethical negotiations RHM researchers face when recruiting participants from online communities, and especially communities that are stigmatized or otherwise distrustful of researchers. I discuss the specific challenges I faced during this process, and offer four suggestions for researchers engaged in this work. These include the valuable role of reflexive journaling, the need for participant input in the distribution of recruitment messages, the importance of accounting for the dynamic nature of online communication, and the ways that participant communication online may shape off-line interactions. This essay can offer guidance to RHM scholars facing similar situations, and contribute to the broader conversation about practice-level ethical concerns in RHM research involving online communities

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Special Section on Ethics