Ethical issues with using Internet of Things devices in citizen science research: A scoping review

07/18/2020
by   James Scheibner, et al.
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Our chapter presents a scoping review of published scientific studies or case studies of scientific studies that utilise both citizen scientists and Internet of Things devices. Specifically, we selected studies where the authors had included at least a short discussion of the ethical issues encountered during the research process. Having conducted a search of five databases (IEEE Xplore, Scopus, Web of Science, ProQuest, and PubMed), we identified 631 potential results. Following abstract and title screening, and then full text eligibility assessment, we identified 34 published articles that matched our criteria. We then analysed the full text for these articles inductively and deductively, coding ethical issues into three main categories. These categories were autonomy and data privacy, data quality, and intellectual property. We also analysed the full text of these articles to see what strategies researchers took to resolve these ethical issues, as well as any legal implications raised. Following this analysis, our discussion provides recommendations for researchers who wish to integrate citizen scientists and Internet of Things devices into their research. First, all citizen science projects should integrate a data privacy protocol to protect the confidentiality of participants. Secondly, scientific researchers should consider any potential issues of data quality, including whether compromises might be required, before establishing a project. Finally, all intellectual property issues should be clarified both at the start of the project and during its lifecycle. Researchers should also consider any ethical issues that might flow from the use of commercially available Internet of Things devices for research.

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