I will be heading to Seoul this Monday to conduct research on the branding of English in South Korea. I recently met with my dissertation supervisor and asked if it would be appropriate for me to share my fieldwork experiences on this blog if I kept my posts anonymous and more general. Due to the ethical implications, he dissuaded me from blogging.
Even if one anonymizes their research subjects, there are always clues that make it possible for people to trace the identities of your subjects. Furthermore, there is the chance that your research subjects or someone they know could read your blog and completely disagree with the way in which the information is presented and interpreted. While this is an issue with any form of research, the chances of offense and (mis)representation are often greater since blogging is usually employed as an instaneous form of communication. It generally is not used for long-term critical analysis.
This is not to say that blogging cannot take the form of ethical research. However, certain research topics lend themselves better to this medium. Just because we can blog at any moment in time and any place, doesn’t mean we should.