Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Limitations to the 'revolutionary' findings of online studies

Date:
October 23, 2012
Source:
Emory University
Summary:
'Direct to consumer' research, using data obtained through increasingly popular online communities, has methodological limitations that are known to epidemiological studies, including selection bias, information bias, and confounding. These limitations mean that the results and conclusions of research using these methods need to be interpreted with caution, according to a new study.

'Direct to consumer' research, using data obtained through increasingly popular online communities such as 23andMe, PatientsLikeMe and the Personal Genome Project, has methodological limitations that are known to epidemiological studies, including selection bias, information bias, and confounding. These limitations mean that the results and conclusions of research using these methods need to be interpreted with caution, according to a paper published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Related Articles


Cecile Janssens, PhD, formerly of the Erasmus University Medical Center in The Netherlands and currently research professor of epidemiology in the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and Peter Kraft, PhD, from the Harvard School of Public Health, argue that the findings of 'direct to consumer' research should be communicated in a way that is understandable, accurate, complete and not misleading. Researchers do often address methodological limitations in their scientific publications, but not on their websites, say the authors.

Studies relying on collections of self-reported data by self-selected participants raise critical questions that require further ethical analysis and public debate -- for example, regarding the provision of adequate consent, the safeguarding of public trust, disclosure of commercial development of research results, and the sale of participants' data to third parties.

"We worry that overstating the conclusions that can be drawn from these resources may impinge on individual autonomy and informed consent," the authors say. "Only a responsible approach with realistic expectations about what can be done with and concluded from the data will benefit science in the long run."

The authors argue that clarity regarding the benefits of research using solicited personal data is particularly important when the data collected are also used for other purposes, such as selling participants' information to pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

"The potential for sharing participants' data with third parties as well as the commercial uses of research findings should be disclosed more explicitly to participants prior to consent," they conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Cecile J. W. Janssens, Peter Kraft. Research Conducted Using Data Obtained through Online Communities: Ethical Implications of Methodological Limitations. PLoS Medicine, 2012; 9 (10): e1001328 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001328

Cite This Page:

Emory University. "Limitations to the 'revolutionary' findings of online studies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121023172125.htm>.
Emory University. (2012, October 23). Limitations to the 'revolutionary' findings of online studies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121023172125.htm
Emory University. "Limitations to the 'revolutionary' findings of online studies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121023172125.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
States And White House Disagree On Ebola Quarantines

States And White House Disagree On Ebola Quarantines

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Officials in New Jersey and Maine have quarantined Doctors Without Borders nurse Kaci Hickox, a move the White House doesn't seem to support. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Wave of Online Delivery Gains Momentum

New Wave of Online Delivery Gains Momentum

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) With start-ups like Postmates offering quick delivery of meals, groceries and other items through a smartphone app, the online world is delivering again. Duration: 01:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins