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Research involving Social Media

The use of Social Media sites for research and collection of research participants is becoming more frequent, as such we have put together some helpful guidelines.   It is this University’s responsibility to ensure the highest standard of professional conduct and ethical behaviour is adhered to by both Staff and Student researchers.  

Researchers and Participants must be made fully aware that social media/network can have blurred boundaries regarding privacy.   It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that participants are aware that, although every effort will be made to restrict visibility, it could potentially be accessible to a much wider audience and once uploaded it remains a permanent traceable online record, even if you choose to later delete.


  • Keep personal and professional networking material separate.  
  • Do not accept ‘friend’ requests from participants.
  • Limit personal information both your own and that of participants; never publically post private phone number, email or addresses.
  • Be aware that social networking sites update their services and privacy settings; as such you must also be vigilant to check your own privacy settings.
  • Researchers must not allow the data collected to be used for any other purpose than the research indicated.
  • Do not upload images without the express consent of participants.   Before participants agree they must be made fully aware that although you will take every care to restrict access this is not 100% guaranteed and could be viewed by a wider audience.
  • Communication should remain professional at all times relating only to the research

You must refer to the relevant Social Media Policy documents before using for research;

Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

Facebook Data Use Policy

Twitter Users Terms of Use

Reference Material

BPS Ethics Committee Social Media

UTREC word cloud


UTREC Office

College Gate
St Andrews
KY16 9AJ
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 462368


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