Guiding Research Principles: In granting access to our research dataset, we expect that you will be guided by the accepted practices for ethical research established by the social science research communities (see http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/ethics.php and http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx) including:

  • Beneficence and no maleficence: Through your research, you seek to benefit the individuals and community of So.cl. Through your research, you will cause no harm or loss of benefits.
  • Integrity: You seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in your research. You will not misrepresent your findings, mischaracterize the intentions or behaviors of the So.cl community, or engage in deception with the So.cl community.
  • Respect for people’s rights and dignity: You will respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination.
  • More specifically, you will follow standard human subjects research practices including,:
    • Voluntary participation and informed consent. The principle of voluntary participation requires that people not be coerced into participating in research, and that they be fully informed about the procedures and risks involved in research and give consent. Further, they may withdraw at any time from participation without penalty or loss of benefits. At So.cl, we further these principles by taking steps to anonymize our research datasets, and providing our users with a clear understanding of the public nature of their behavior in So.cl, the experimental focus of So.cl as a research platform, and that we may share their usage data for research purposes. Please see our Privacy Statement to learn more. If any users decide to withdraw from participation by deleting their accounts or notifying us of a desire to not participate, we will remove their usage data from that point forward from our data dumps, and researchers may be required to delete any of their behavioral information from the so.cl datasets they have already downloaded. Ultimately, however, you are responsible for ensuring that your research complies with the principles of voluntary participation and informed consent.
    • Do not put people at risk of harm. Researchers should not put people at risk of harm as a result of participation in their research, where harm may be both physical or psychological. Within the So.cl web site we do not anticipate participants will experience harm, and through their ongoing participation they have already accepted any risks. That said, we do expect researchers will be mindful of potentially unanticipated harm caused through the impact of their research including consequences of publication.
    • Confidentiality and/or anonymity. We do not share personally identifying information in our So.cl Research Dataset. However, behavior within the So.cl website is largely public and participants often provide personally identifying information within the site. Because of this, identity may be inferred from the So.cl Research Datasets. For this reason, researchers must assure that they will treat the datasets as confidential, not share it with others who are not directly involved in their research, and never publish any individual user content provided within the dataset or online without seeking additional consent from the user.
  • Maintain Institutional Standards. Finally, as a researcher, we expect you will abide by your institution’s rules of conduct for research.