I personally think that if an individual posts information on the internet on any site, in any forum about anything, then they are signing a consent form saying that anyone in the whole wide world can use the information whatever it may be, for their own purposes, however, some individuals may think that when they post this information on the internet, that some people may respect that the information may be personal and private but some people out there aren’t so considerate and may use it other purposes such as statistics for something or other or in fact, research.
I think that if an individual puts up any information up on the internet, either personal or impersonal, then they are basically signing a consent form to say anyone can do whatever with the information they have produced. The internet can be a useful way in getting real facts and opinions without actually asking real participants or individuals which they can then use in their research. I think that the internet is a great way to collect data because it comes right from the devils mouth and is very much likely to be true. Another way that the internet is useful for research is because it is highly efficient in recruiting participants to partake in the study. It is also useful if the sample you which to recruit has rare characteristics as this would be quick and easy on the internet. Buchanan & Smith (2010) said that the ‘internet is increasingly being used as a medium for psychological research’. Research was taken out on the internet in which 963 responses were obtained. These were then compared to a group of 224 undergraduates who completed a paper and pencil version of the questionnaire. They found that ‘comparison of model fit indices obtained through confirmatory factor analyses indicated that the Internet-mediated version had similar psychometric properties to its conventional equivalent and compared favourably as a measure of self-monitoring’.
Although the internet is useful for collecting data online and recruiting participants, there is a reliability issue in that not all information you see on the internet is true and if a researcher is taking the information and using it for the purpose of research, it may be invalid and also unreliable as it is coming from an unknown source. It’s also a bit tricky as you know nothing about the background or anything about the participant so the variables are endless. Some individuals would argue that they should be informed if their data is to be used in research and that they should be debriefed.
Researchers need to be careful when selecting certain pieces of information from the internet as their results may be unreliable and not valid as the information they selected was from an unknown source. However, I think it using the internet for psychological research can be highly effective and very useful when trying to select a large sample of participants and it is also an easier way to collect data.