For many researchers in the social sciences ethnographic/participant observation methodologies form a core aspect of their research. In the current COVID pandemic, the traditional face-to-face research is impossible. This can cause researchers to have to choose between excluding the observational component of their research, or to adapt it using digital tools. The latter could include attending online meetings, monitoring discussion boards, or joining virtual community spaces. These forms of digital observation can raise important questions about transparency, privacy and consent.
In this session we explore the tension faced by many ethnographic researchers in the current COVID milieu. We explore issues of concern, such as feelings on methodological slippage, concerns about “eavesdropping”, unexpected data (such as participant’s personal surroundings), encourage individuals currently struggling with these issues to share their experiences and recommendations about how to be a responsible online researcher.